The United States has issued a travel advisory for Hong Kong, urging visitors to “exercise increased caution” because of civil unrest.

The alert from the State Department warned that some demonstrations in the city “have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes.”

“The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue,” read the advisory.

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The USS Ronald Reagan during a visit to Hong Kong. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Hong Kong is now on the second tier of a four-tiered alert system, one level above “exercise normal precautions.” The State Department advised travellers to avoid areas with demonstrations, and to exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.

Australia also upgraded its travel advice for Hong Kong on Wednesday, warning travellers to exercise a high degree of caution.

“Protests have become more unpredictable and are expected to continue. Tourist areas have been affected,” said Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “There is a risk of violent confrontation between protestors and police, or criminally-linked individuals, particularly at unauthorised protests.”

Other countries such as the UK, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have previously issued similar warnings.

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Protesters douse a tear gas submunition with water. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The UK said that clashes in Hong Kong have “involved significant violence” and are likely to continue.

“Compared to authorised protests, unauthorised protests are met by a more rapid and more severe police response. Recent unauthorised protests have attracted heavy use of tear gas, including in built-up and residential areas,” the Foreign Office said.

Airport protests planned

Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protesters – who have promoted their cause with polished advertising campaigns – anonymously issued their own response in messaging apps to the travel alerts on Wednesday. They asked travellers to “forgive [them] for an ‘unexpected’ Hong Kong.”

“Everything that’s happened over these months has undoubtedly conflicted with your travel plans. You’ve arrived in a broken, torn-apart city, not the one you have once pictured. Yet the city you imagined is exactly what we’re fighting for,” read an eight-page brochure.

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Hong Kong protesters at the airport. Photo: May James/HKFP.

“We’re fighting to put these broken pieces back together, to preserve what makes this city our home. Bear with us. We believe, when you set foot in Hong Kong again in several years, you can see the glamorous, lively, beautiful Hong Kong you’ve always imagined and we’ll always love.”

Protesters have planned a three-day demonstration at the Hong Kong International Airport starting on Friday, with the aim of informing visitors to the city about the protests.

Some said on the Reddit-like forum LIHKG that they will conduct a show-and-tell with used tear gas canisters, while other users said that the airport was an ideal location for protesting as a police crackdown was unlikely.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.