SVA Update Number 1 - Hong Kong Protests – Threat Assessment – 12 June 2019 1400 hrs

SVA

A further wave of protests against the adoption of an extradition law under discussion in the Hong Kong Legislative Council (“LegCo”) started on the evening of Tuesday 11 June 2019. 

These protests have extended into Wednesday 12 June 2019, and gathered momentum, resulting in major disruption in the Central, Admiralty and Wanchai districts on Hong Kong island this morning.

Background to Confrontation

These protests follow a major march of hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday 9 June 2019 against the proposed extradition law.  That Sunday march was largely peaceable, although some violence took place later that night, when a small minority of protesters sought to attack the LegCo building. 

The proposed extradition law will provoke protests for at least the next week, until either its passage or withdrawal. The government shows no sign of abandoning the law, however, despite a deferral of a reading on Wednesday morning.

Indeed, the attempt to pass this law has injected new vigour into what was a much weakened pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong, hinting at the prospect of significant new protests in the weeks and months ahead. 

The Current Situation – 12 Jun 2019 (Wednesday) at 1300 hrs

Starting from about 0800 hrs on Wednesday 12 June 2019, protesters blocked major roads in Admiralty and Wanchai, ironically making use of police barriers stored nearby.  The police did not move quickly enough to maintain control of some major arterial roads, meaning that disruption has proven significant. 

The risk of escalation is now very real. 

Police searches of people’s bags on the MTR on 11 June had already prompted ire, amongst younger demonstrators.  The police have announced that they will not tolerate any violence, and are prepared for a confrontation. 

Protester numbers have grown fast.  Some have come prepared with masks and headgear to counter police crowd control measures. Others were seen gathering bricks as potential weapons.  Certain factions seem bent on seeking a confrontation.  Should pro-government groups rally, their involvement would only heighten tensions and provoke conflicts. 

Serious disruption thus seems likely to continue for some time, perhaps for at least a week.  In this context, a number of scenarios may play out, such as:

Of course, the government may yet reduce tensions by suspending the proposed extradition law, although it has hitherto shown little sign of any willingness to do so and appears to have backed themselves into a corner.

Contingency Planning and Mitigating Corporate Risk

SVA recommends that all companies likely to be affected should carefully evaluate their risk profiles in relation to the various scenarios outlined above.  Moreover, they should monitor developments closely. 

At a bare minimum, planners should examine the following:

Different businesses have widely varying requirements, and thus all plans need to be practically tailored to meet specific needs.  SVA stands ready to assist companies as may be necessary.