Global Affairs Canada has issued the following advisory to Canadians travelling to Hong Kong:
National security legislation for Hong Kong came into effect on June 30, 2020. Activities considered as national security violations are broadly and vaguely defined. They could include activities that would not be illegal in Canada. You risk being arbitrarily detained on national security grounds. You could be subject to transfer to mainland China for prosecution. Penalties are severe and include life imprisonment.
The Union has consulted with its own security experts regarding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and is re-issuing certain guidelines that members ought to consider now when travelling to Hong Kong:
- Global Affairs Canada has information and advice specific to laws and culture in Hong Kong, as well as arrest and detention policies in Mainland China.
- Protests may be deemed illegal based on new national security legislation: Avoid all gatherings and demonstrations.
- Any kind of activity that may be considered illegal or immoral or supportive of efforts to challenge the current political situation in Hong Kong or the PRC should be avoided as it may place you at increased risk of arrest or detention.
- Avoid photographing government buildings and personnel, as well as locations of political or commercial significance, as this could be misinterpreted by local authorities and could place you at increased risk of arrest or detention.
- Avoid all political conversation, especially topics that could be perceived as critical of local or Mainland government. Be mindful that certain issues considered benign back home could be considered politically disruptive and subject to the new National security law.
- Locals have traditionally had access to a similar kind of free press and political debate that exists in Canadian media and may still be adjusting to the new legislation which may limit this in some cases. Therefore, do not assume that actions of locals are in accordance with the new national security law.
- Never assume you have digital privacy. Exercise good “digital hygiene”, by restricting public access to personal social media accounts and clearing browser caches and history. You may consider logging out of your email and removing content or apps from devices which may be considered immoral or contrary/critical of local laws and government. Be aware of the sites that you visit and comments you make while online.
- Chinese or Hong Kong nationals who have, or who’s family members have engaged in activities or posted messages online which could be seen to oppose Chinese leadership and/or it’s policies, or which may be critical of the current political situation in Hong Kong should be pay particular attention to their actions and activities while in Hong Kong or the PRC.
As with any other destination the Union recommends the following:
- Visit the Global Affairs website regularly, or download the government’s Travel Smart app. The app has the added benefit of alerting you automatically when travel advisories are issued or amended for your “preferred” destinations.
- Make sure to read your company communications to remain aware of any potential operational changes and/or safety advisories. ePub also contains excellent general travel advice.
- Review the Union’s general layover safety and security advice (see below).
- Understand what the Canadian government can and cannot do to assist in the event of arrest or detention in a foreign country. It may be limited, especially for those who hold dual citizenship.
- Know that aircrew do not hold any form of diplomatic status and aren’t guaranteed any special treatment by authorities. You are always subject to local laws, including the new national security legislation in Hong Kong.
- Never assume that what’s considered acceptable back home will be tolerated in a foreign place. It’s always best to read up on local laws and customs. Discussing basic and important faux-pas with colleagues who are familiar with local culture prior to arrival may be helpful.
- Never assume that a conversation held in a non-local language (e.g. French) is private.
- Ensure to let someone from your crew know where you are when you go out or leave a note in your room. Always follow company procedures if you expect to be away from the hotel for an extended period of time.
- If you are ever detained in a foreign place, be extremely cautious about anything you say to a lawyer assigned to you, as they may not represent what is in your best interests. Do not sign anything. Request to speak to a member from the Canadian consulate or embassy as they may not be informed automatically of your situation. They should be able to provide you with a list of trustworthy lawyers to choose from.
- In the event of social unrest or other large-scale emergencies: Avoid crowds, tourist areas or places of political significance, follow the advice and guidance of local authorities, try to remain aware of the local news while on layover. If in doubt about any local safety issues, consulting the hotel staff can be helpful.
Your union and its many resources remain at your disposal. Please contact us should you have any questions.
For detailed layover safety and security advice:
- Consult your Union 2020 Agenda Planner or send a blank email to email@example.com
- Consult ePub
The Union remains available by the following means depending on the circumstance:
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE