Monday, 19 August, 2019

Hong Kong airport grinds to a halt as protests swell

Protesters gather at the city's airport to protest the controversial extradition bill which started the demonstrations months ago. Source Vivek Prakash  AFP  Getty Images Clashes erupt AGAIN in Hong Kong as police fire tear gas at protesters after petrol bombs go off
Russell Knight | 12 August, 2019, 16:28

This summer's increasingly violent demonstrations have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting one of the biggest popular challenges to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Metro stations in Hong Kong also resumed regular service earlier on Monday and streets were being cleaned of debris as the city recovered from another night of violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police, with more protests planned this week.

Demonstrations continued over the weekend, including at the airport where protesters holding signs staged a sit-in at the arrival and departure halls on Friday.

At Sham Shui Po, a district in Kowloon, local organizers stated that it would not hold a march originally scheduled from Maple Street Playground to Sham Shui Po Sports Ground after their appeal to a local appeal board was rejected, according to Hong Kong media RTHK.

They dispersed, as noxious smoke also filled the train station there, bringing train passengers to tears.

Luxury shops were caught up in the protests, with some shoppers even taking pictures of riot police, while other bystanders - at one stage hundreds - jeered the officers.

"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.

The protests in Hong Kong have infuriated Beijing and left Cathay Pacific in a hard position.

Hong Kong violence escalates as police and protesters clash in metro stations
Authorities have begun emphasizing the damage on the city's economy, already buffeted by China's slowdown and the U.S. Riot police fire pepper spray against protesters during the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong on Sunday.

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"But she's the one who is destroying Hong Kong", he said.

Undoubtedly there are illusions among the Hong Kong protesters, encouraged by the pan-democrats and some student leaders such as Joshua Wong, that the U.S. and its allies, Britain in particular, will intervene on their behalf. -China trade war - was being undermined by the protests, which began in June.

Although the government has now suspended the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, demonstrators want it to be fully withdrawn.

Demonstrators, a lot of them young, appeared only to be digging in. It has already exerted pressure on Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways to take disciplinary action against its employees who have supported the protests. Thousands of residents, furious with government indifference and harsh policing, fought battles throughout the city as they tried frenzied, urban guerrilla tactics to block roads, occupy the airport terminal, march en masse, participants shrugging off rounds of tear gas. "We have to come here to protest", Lau said. She said she was anxious about escalating violence, but added that "the protesters were just trying to protect themselves against police violence".

Tear gas was sacked at the blackshirted crowds in districts on Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories, with one young female medic hospitalised after being shot in the right eye, triggering a protest by medical workers who wore bloodied patches over their eyes.

They are demanding the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, and an independent investigation into the handling of the protests.

Moreover, the protests themselves have involved a significant proportion of the Hong Kong population and have taken place largely outside of the involvement of the official opposition in the city-the so-called pan-democrat grouping in the Legislative Council.

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