China calls Hong Kong protests 'terrorism' as flights cancelled

Cheryl Sanders
August 13, 2019

Hongkong protesters occupied almost every inch of the city-state's airport on Monday after a weekend of violent clashes with the police, forcing Hong Kong's authorities to cancel all flights that day as Beijing made its frustration known by linking the demonstrations to "terrorism", feeding fears of a military crackdown.

Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely risky tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging.

"A guy came and told us either we leave the airport or just stay at the airport but he said staying at the airport was no use".

Also on Monday, journalists and lawmakers were invited to observe as Hong Kong police demonstrated how they would use armored vehicles equipped with water cannons, which Amnesty International has warned could result in serious injuries on the city's densely populated streets.

The unprecedented cancellation of all flights followed the fourth consecutive day of protests at the airport and amid increasingly threatening statements from Beijing.

The Hong Kong protests started in June in response to the introduction of a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed Hongkongers to be trialed in mainland china, eroding the city-state's legal and political independence according to critics.

A crowd of protesters that authorities said numbered more than 5,000 descended on the airport yesterday carrying placards and chanting slogans about police violence.

"Other than the departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights that are already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been cancelled for the rest of today", the airport authority said in a statement. "The traffic to the airport is very congested, and the auto park spaces at all carparks are already full".

As more than two months of mass protests have taken over the semi-autonomous Chinese city, companies from luxury fashion brands to bubble tea shops have been under pressure to distance themselves from protesters and declare their support for the ruling Communist Party's position on Hong Kong. Tear gas was also deployed in central Hong Kong on both sides of Victoria Harbour, in the Tsim Sha Tsui area on the Kowloon side and in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island.

A commentary early on Tuesday in China's official Xinhua news agency spoke of "black-clad mobsters" and said Hong Kong's future was at a "critical juncture".

Hong Kong and Macao are Special Administrative Regions of China (SARs), exercising a broad level of autonomy from Beijing as part of their terms of reincorporation into the People's Republic.

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

However, China's Civil Aviation Authority issued a warning to Cathay Pacific about the involvement of its staff in "riots".

A group of pro-Beijing supporters lunges towards the media at North Point in Hong Kong on August 11, 2019.

The airline has also found itself the target of a boycott call by mainland residents.

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.

Cathay Pacific has, so far, sacked two employees and suspended a pilot.

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