Hong Kong International Airport resumes flights after 2 days of mass disruption

Andrew Cummings
August 14, 2019

Some flights were able to depart and land earlier Tuesday, a day after more than 200 flights were canceled. As a result, Hong Kong's airport is one of the busiest in the world both for passengers and freight.

Passengers were checking in for flights Tuesday morning in a sign operations were returning to normal, although protesters have shown no sign of letting up on their campaign to force Chief Executive Carrie Lam's administration to respond to their demands.

An AFP reporter at departures said check-in desks were operating normally and only a handful of protesters remained, a lot of them sleeping.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from Hong Kong airport, said the airport staff have been trying to clear the backlog.

The police condemned protesters' behaviour, but stopped short of deeming it terrorism.

"Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?" she said. "This is becoming a defining moment for US-China relations", he wrote in a tweet, referring to the regime's bloody crackdown on unarmed student protesters in Beijing in 1989. An hour before the tweet he told reporter that he had been on a call "with China" earlier in the day.

A group of protesters apologising at the Hong Kong airport on August 14, 2019.

Five people were detained in the latest disturbances, police said, bringing the number of those arrested since the protests began in June to more than 600.

The United Nations human rights commissioner, Michele Bachelet, urged Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of their forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under worldwide law.

At the end of July, anger boils over after masked men - suspected of being triad gangsters - attack protesters inside a train station.

Hong Kong legal experts say Beijing might be paving the way to use anti-terrorism laws to try to quell the demonstrations.

The state-owned Chinese media has also accused the United States of being the "black hand" behind the Hong Kong protests and attempting to foment a "colour revolution" on China's doorstep.

"The High Commissioner condemns any form of violence or destruction of property and urges everyone participating in the demonstrations to express their views in a peaceful way".

"State terrorism is what is being experienced by Hong Kong people", said Joshua Wong.

"Using the sword of the law to stop violence and restore order is overwhelmingly the most important and urgent task for Hong Kong!" it said. He denied that he was a public security officer. Lam said, although she again refused to make any concessions to the protesters.

Rupert Colville said the UN Human Rights Office had also reviewed credible evidence that police are using "less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by worldwide norms".

"Officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury", it added.

Speaking to reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday, Trump said, "The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation". "For this we feel pained and dispirited and would like to express our most honest apologies", they said.

Some 21 countries and regions have issued travel safety alerts for their citizens travelling to Hong Kong, saying protests have become more violent and unpredictable.

"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,", Yang said at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Nearly 75 million passengers travelled through Hong Kong Airport in 2018, making it the eighth busiest airport in the world and the fourth busiest in Asia. A front-page commentary on the overseas edition of the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper said on Wednesday Hong Kong had reached a critical juncture.

However, multiple U.S. officials also told CNN that troop movement near the Hong Kong border is a tactic they expected from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is laying the groundwork, they say, in case intervention is needed.

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