Police clashed with protesters in Central on Sunday, December 22, when a peaceful protest turned violent. Hundreds of people were reportedly gathered in Hong Kong's financial center to denounce the Chinese persecution of Uyghar Turks when protesters began throwing glass bottles and rocks at police. Police then used tear gas to disperse the crowd. This clash comes after a day of protests in shopping malls resulted in several arrests on Saturday, December 21.
A heightened security presence along with localized transportation and business disruptions are anticipated near all demonstration sites over the coming hours.
Further protests may be organized with little warning over the near term and a heightened security presence is likely across Hong Kong until the political situation in the city fully stabilizes.
Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory, along with the high turnout (71%) of the vote, suggest that the public continues to support protests, although tensions have significantly escalated across Hong Kong since November 11, after a police officer shot a protester in Sai Wan Ho.
On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protester demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence.
Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in recent weeks and have also become increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites, confirm the status of their flights prior to departure for the airport, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are also advised to avoid wearing black and white colors around protest zones or rallies as they are associated with protesters.