Hong Kong protests cease for the moment but could return

Posted on Dec 12, 2014

The enduring pro-democracy protests in the heart of Hong Kong's downtown district were dismantled by military and law enforcement on December 11, ending the months-long occupation of major roads in the city. The demonstrations were among some of the least violent in recent history, with limited amounts of property damage and no large-scale physical confrontations between demonstrators and government forces. That relative peace extended for much of the protest's lifespan, despite the fact that they lasted much longer than initial predictions had estimated.

Protests may not be over

CNN noted the presence of one remaining protest site on a side street near the area, which was left untouched under the conditions of a tacit agreement that the participants don't move or expand their operations beyond the current location. Reuters pointed to the potential for a larger scale return of activists in the future, as the people carried out of the camps by police chanted "we'll be back" during the removal.

"You might have the clearance today but people will come back on to the streets another day," movement leader Alex Chow said during the departure of activists, according to Reuters.

A situation that needs to be monitored

Businesses with employees traveling to the Hong Kong area have to remain aware of the situation in the city. While it's currently quelled, there's definite potential for a flare in tensions and renewed actions in the future. Duty of care for staff in the area has to be emphasized. While violence remains a remote possibility, there are plenty of logistical issues associated with large scale protests, which could leave employees stranded or unable to complete their travels.

Back to normal quickly

CNN reported that Hong Kong police officers physically removed the last protesters in the morning of December 11, although there weren't any violent confrontations. From there, police and other municipal workers cleared the tents and other structures erected to house the activists in a quick fashion, along with other extant items such as protest artwork. Harcourt Road, the major thoroughfare where many of the initial and longest-lasting protest sites were located, was returned to normal in a matter of hours and traffic flow resumed quickly after months of blockage. The notably fastidious protesters likely made the job of government employees easier, as the activists had regularly policed their demonstration areas and removed garbage and debris.

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