Blockade, beating, pepper spray on second day of Hong Kong airport chaos

14 Août, 2019, 13:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Passengers queue on Tuesday as Hong Kong airport reopened a day after flights were halted due to a protest

For a second consecutive day, protesters of China's grip on Hong Kong disrupted air travel.

A few dozen protesters remained at the airport on Wednesday while workers scrubbed it clean of blood and debris.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled on Tuesday after protesters flooded the terminal buildings. Check-in activity had been suspended due to the congestion, affecting hundreds of flights. It is not clear whether the demonstrations would have continued on Wednesday, or if protesters will show up despite the court's order.

Other Chinese airlines have offered passengers wanting to avoid Hong Kong a free switch to nearby destinations, such as Guangzhou, Macau, Shenzhen or Zhuhai, with the disruption sending shares in Shenzhen Airport Co Ltd surging.

Despite the trouble, some flights were still scheduled to take off early on Wednesday morning with some tourists still waiting in the departure hall and dining areas, according to Reuters journalists in the airport. Online, they also circulated letters and promotional materials apologising to travellers and the general public for inconveniences during the past five days of airport occupations.

Last week, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus called China a "thuggish regime" for disclosing photographs and personal details of a US diplomat who met with Hong Kong's student leaders.

Hong Kong's Airport Authority said it had obtained an interim injunction against protesters to keep them from returning to disrupt the airport - meaning if they do return they could face arrest or forced removal by police.

Chinese state media has also posted messages of support for the Hong Kong police, describing what was happening in the city as "a shame".

However, even though the Trump administration has made strident and provocative denunciations of Beijing over trade and risky strategic flashpoints such as the South China Sea, it has made no such comments over the Hong Kong protests.

Trump said the situation in Hong Kong was tricky but he hoped it would work out for everybody, including China, and "for liberty" without anyone getting hurt or killed.

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However, it was unclear if the protesters, who have no public leaders and organise via social media, would return to the airport. Everyone should be calm and safe!" he commented.

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This week Amnesty International said Hong Kong police have violated human rights by using gas, rubber bullets and pepper ball projectiles on the protestors in confined spaces.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997.

In another tweet characteristic of Trump, he said that Chinese intelligence had informed the U.S. that it was putting troops on the border of Hong Kong.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, identified one of the men as a journalist at the nationalistic Chinese tabloid. "I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself".

Protesters on Wednesday apologised that some of them had become "easily agitated and over-reacted".

On posters, the demonstrators said they have been "riddled with paranoia and rage" after discovering undercover police officers in their ranks.

And as tensions between demonstrators and Hong Kong authorities intensify, so has the messaging from the central Chinese government as it seeks to shape how the protests are perceived both overseas and on the mainland, where social media and news outlets are tightly controlled.

China's state media reported this week that China has been assembling the People's Armed Police and conducting exercises in the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen, adding to fears that Beijing might directly intervene to quell the protests.

The US president cited intelligence as saying that China's government was moving troops to its border with Hong Kong, and urged calm after the airport clashes.

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