Flights resuming at Hong Kong airport after protest chaos

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Policemen arrest a protester during a clash at the Airport in Hong Kong on Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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Anti-Extradition bill protesters are seen on the check-in counter during a mass demonstration at the Hong Kong international airport on August 13, 2019. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
Updated 14 August 2019

Flights resuming at Hong Kong airport after protest chaos

  • A mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations on Tuesday
  • The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents

HONG KONG: Flight operations resumed at Hong Kong’s airport Wednesday morning after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence highlighting the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the Chinese city that’s a major international travel hub.
About three dozen protesters remained camped in the airport’s arrivals area, a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations. But check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally.
The airport had closed check-in for remaining flights late Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers. Tuesday’s cancelations were in addition to 200 flights backlogged from Monday.
Most of the protesters left after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. Riot police clashed briefly with the demonstrators.
The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents. Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away. Police have acknowledged using “decoy” officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, identified one of the men as a journalist at the nationalistic Chinese tabloid.
“Fu Guohao, reporter of GT website is being seized by demonstrators at HK airport,” Hu wrote on his Twitter account. “I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself. He has no other task except for reporting.”
One protester used a US flag to beat Fu as he lay on the floor. Other protesters and first aid workers attempted to stop some who tried to trample the man, while pro-democracy lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki crouched beside him and tried to calm the attackers. After a heated argument, protesters allowed ambulance workers to take the man away on a stretcher.
Hong Kong police said they arrested five people for unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers and possessing weapons.
The airport disruptions escalated a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.
The demonstrators are demanding Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down and scrap proposed legislation under which some suspects could be sent to mainland China, where critics say they could face torture and unfair or politically charged trials.
Lam has rejected calls for dialogue, saying Tuesday the protesters were threatening to push their home into an “abyss.”


Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

Updated 16 min 23 sec ago

Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

  • Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes
HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions Thursday as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks while police skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. None of the officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.

The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.

At Polytechnic University, protesters shot an arrow at officers patrolling nearby, then threw flower pots from a height when other officers arrived. Police responded with tear gas, and protesters fired more arrows.

Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.

Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.

Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, which were not intervening.

Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.

A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.

“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.
Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.

The movement began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.