Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hong Kong airport grinds to a halt as protests swell

Hong Kong airport grinds to a halt as protests swell

Dozens of flights were cancelled on Tuesday and further delays were expected after thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the city's airport on Monday, with travellers urged to check with their airline before they travel.

It has struggled to find middle ground after one of its pilots was arrested for rioting over his alleged participation in a Hong Kong protest.

Police put on a demonstration of an anti-riot water cannon on Monday, in a warning to protesters as authorities toughen their approach over violence that has roiled the Asian financial hub for two months.

"I support them, though I don't agree with all their methods", Annie Chan, an accountant, said at a shopping plaza that protesters briefly occupied.

"I can say that during the time when our police officers were disguised. they [did not] provoke anything." he said.

Tang said that on August 11, some people turned a deaf ear to the police's objection and got involved in unauthorized rallies.

The increasingly violent protests have plunged Chinese-ruled Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades and presented a serious challenge to Beijing. Some protesters have thrown bricks, eggs and flaming objects at police stations.

Two Virgin Australia flights - VA82 to Sydney and VA68 to Melbourne - were due to depart the airport on Monday night and were re-scheduled for Tuesday.

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hong Kong airport on Monday, police said, as authorities cancelled all the day's remaining flights in and out of the busy global transport hub.

Violent anti-government marchers in Hong Kong are showing signs of terrorist activity, China has warned. The airport has been filled with anti-government protesters for four days.

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US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said they were "bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party", and that a violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable.

"Firing at retreating protesters in confined areas where they had little time to leave goes against the purported objective of dispersing a crowd", Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said in a statement.

Chinese troops last week amassed at the Hong Kong border, sparking concerns Beijing could enact martial law, leading to a citywide strike that ended up in the cancellation of more than 200 flights.

Still, scores of protesters were arrested, sometimes after being beaten with batons and bloodied by police.

One female protester was seen being treated by paramedics, after she was hit in the face by a beanbag round.

Showcasing the slick design that has characterized the protests, other pamphlets and posters also advertised planned demonstrations as "new tourist spots", handed out airline tickets "to freedom" and advised tourists what to do if they were caught in the protests during their visit.

Hundreds of people returned on Monday to the scene of some of the clashes to protest against the use of force.

Beijing tends toward a broad definition of terrorism, including in it nonviolent protests of government policies on the environment or in minority regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet.

"Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong and Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Consequently, Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg wrote in a memo to employees that the company is legally required to comply with China's aviation authority.

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