Pages

Monday, February 17, 2020

Protests, Coronavirus Fears, and Valentine's Day Converge at a Hong Kong Prison

On Friday in front of the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre - a maximum security institution — hundreds of people gathered to show solidarity with detained protestors. What one of the participants held and wore particularly captured the unique convergence of events in Hong Kong that night: a face covering used by some anti-government protestors to hide their identity, 3M safety goggles to protect against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and a rose fitting the theme of the rally: "Valentine's Day With You".

person holding a rose and wearing a face mask and goggles


The gathering differed from several other rallies held at the same location during recent months in that the organizers did not apply for a letter of no objection from the police. Although the police were clearly keeping an eye on things, they didn't interfere with the rally until it had nearly reached the two hour mark, which is about how long some of the previous rallies lasted. At that that time, police came into the protest area while holding up blue warning flags with the text: "This meeting or procession is in breach of the law. Disperse or we may use force."

Disperse they did. And Valentine's Day came to an end at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

From Protests to a Virus: Signs of the Times at a Hong Kong MTR Station

Until recently, protests were the focus of much attention in Hong Kong. Now, attention is more focused on the new coronavirus spreading which has rapidly spread throughout China. Two signs at Kwai Fong Station capture some of the impact of the protests and the virus:

pump bottle of hand sanitizer and signs about vandalism and hand washing


One sign promotes frequent hand washing to help prevent further spreading of the virus. Below the sign is hand sanitizer — now very hard to find in Hong Kong. Notably, the sign was placed on a device which, as another sign indicates, was previously vandalized. Most likely, the destruction is related to protests in Hong Kong last year.

Only time can tell whether both signs will be removed anytime soon.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Nearly Empty and Policed: Last Night at Hong Kong Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

Hong Kong Port, the border checkpoint for people using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB), is one of the few remaining checkpoints open in Hong Kong for direct travel to or from mainland China — a response to the still-spreading Wuhan coronavirus and its effects. With the closing of all cross-borer ferry and helicopter services, the bridge is also the only way to travel directly between Hong Kong and Macau. Despite the dwindling options for reaching Macau or mainland China, when I arrived there last night at around 7 p.m. the Departure Hall was nearly empty.

Hong Kong Port departure hall with hardly any travelers


On the plus side, passing through immigration was a breeze as there were no line for the single immigration officer handling visitors.

The bridge showed few signs of travelers as well.

no other vehicles in sight on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge


At times no other vehicles were in sight. Quite regularly, more than a minute would pass between any vehicles headed in the opposite direction passing us. Although I have found traffic on the bridge to be rather light in the past, even before Hong Kong was dealing with a virus outbreak or protests, last night was more extreme.

When I returned to Hong Kong Port shortly before 2 a.m. after an evening in Macau, I wasn't surprised to find it similarly quiet at first. However, after clearing customs the Arrival Hall provided a surprise: approximately 20 police in riot gear who were on their way out of the building.

numerous police in riot gear walking through the Hong Kong Port Arrival Hall
Definitely back in Hong Kong


I don't know if the police were responding to a specific threat, but Hong Kong Port might be a prime target for protestors who seek a more complete closure of the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Perhaps they don't need to bother.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A View of Argyle from Above in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

 Looking westward down Argyle Street this afternoon from a pedestrian bridge next to Sai Yee Street in Mong Kok