Kris Cheng & Jennifer Creery | Hong Kong Free Press
Hong Kong’s government has canceled an annual October 1 fireworks display to mark National Day citing public safety concerns.
“In view of the latest situation and having regard to public safety, the National Day Fireworks Display originally scheduled to take place at Victoria Harbour in the evening of October 1 (Tuesday) will be canceled,” the Leisure and Cultural Services Department wrote in a statement on Wednesday.
The fireworks display at Victoria Harbour was last canceled in 2014 because of the large-scale Occupy protests, as well as in 2013 because of the Lamma ferry tragedy the year before.
The upcoming National Day celebrations which include a flag-raising event will mark 70 years of the People’s Republic of China. However, a pro-democracy protest is usually held on the same day.
Hong Kong has been convulsed by 15 consecutive weeks of protests, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. The unrest has since morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy, alleged police brutality, surveillance, and other community grievances.
Over the past few weeks, a number of events in the city have been postponed or axed altogether, with some organisers attributing the decision to unrest in the city. The events included the WTA Hong Kong Open women’s tennis tournament, US-based comedian Trevor Noah’s show and performances of the award-winning musical Matilda.
The cancellations came as the city’s bruised economy took a tumble with on-year tourist arrivals plunging by 40 percent in the past month, mainly owing to fewer mainland Chinese visitors, according to financial chief Paul Chan.