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BANGKOK 19 August 2019 19:49
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Clashes at Hong Kong airport after flights halted

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Clashes at Hong Kong airport after flights halted

By Tom Westbrook and Clare Jim

 

2019-08-13T160726Z_1_LYNXNPEF7C18T_RTROPTP_4_HONGKONG-PROTESTS.JPG

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye, at the Hong Kong international airport, in Hong Kong China August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Police and protesters clashed at Hong Kong's international airport on Tuesday after flights were disrupted for a second day as the political crisis in the former British colony deepened.

 

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump said the Chinese government was moving troops to the border with HongKong and he urged calm.

 

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.

 

Hong Kong Chief Exectuve Carrie Lam warned that Hong Kong risked being "smashed to pieces".

 

In Hong Kong's paralyzed international airport, protesters detain a man they say is working undercover for police. Rough cut (no reporter narration)

The man was tied to a baggage trolley and surrounded by both media and protesters. Reuters could not verify the protesters' claim about the man.

He was later carried out on a stretcher by medics, and driven away in an ambulance.

Flights at one of the world's busiest airports have been disrupted for a second day, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil.

 

Demonstrators who have been protesting for the past nine weeks against Beijing's growing influence in the special administrative region targeted the international airport for a second day on Tuesday.

 

Thousands of black-clad protesters jammed the terminal chanting, singing and waving banners.

 

Scuffles broke out in the evening after an injured man was held by a group of protesters. Some claimed he was an undercover mainland Chinese agent and initialy refused to let him leave.

 

Medics, however, bundled him onto a stretcher and forced their way through jeering throngs to an ambulance.

 

Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters and riot police moved in amid chaotic scenes, using pepper spray to keep people back. A policeman pulled out a gun at one point.

 

Protesters also barricaded some passageways in the airport with luggage trolleys, metal barriers and other objects. Others clambered onto check-in counters as the protesters appeared to control part of the airport for a short while. At least two protesters were taken away by police.

 

Another mainland Chinese man was held and tied down by protesters at the airport after they thought he was posing as a reporter. The editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times newspaper, Hu Xijin, tweeted that the man was a journalist with the paper. He was later taken away by ambulance.

 

The situation calmed down after a few hours without the violence worsening, and the crowds thinned out. Local media reported that an injunction had been issued by a local court to clear the airport of protesters.

 

The action followed an unprecedented shutdown of the airport on Monday. Hong Kong's Airport Authority said operations had been "seriously disrupted" on Tuesday and departing passengers had been unable to reach immigration counters.

 

The weeks of protests began as opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China and have swelled into wider calls for democracy.

 

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.

 

The increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub. Hong Kong's stockmarket fell to a seven-month low on Tuesday.

 

PUSHED INTO THE ABYSS

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 international law.

 

China responded by saying her comments sent the wrong signal to "violent criminal offenders".

 

Chief Executive Lam made an appeal for calm and restraint.

 

"Take a minute to look at our city, our home," she said, her voice cracking, at a news conference in the newly-fortified government headquarters complex.

"Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?" she said.

 

Demonstrators want Lam to resign. She says she will stay.

 

The events present Chinese President Xi Jinping with one of his biggest challenges since he came to power in 2012.

 

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

 

Britain, a guarantor of the agreement that transferred Hong Kong to China in 1997, on Tuesday condemned the violence and urged dialogue.

 

"Concerning to see what's happening in Hong Kong and the worrying pictures of clashes between police & protesters at the airport," Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

 

ANGRY PASSENGERS

"I think paralysing the airport will be effective in forcing Carrie Lam to respond to us...it can further pressure Hong Kong's economy," said Dorothy Cheng, a 17-year-old protester.

 

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.

 

Some passengers challenged protesters over the delays as tempers began to fray.

 

Flag carrier Cathay Pacific said flights might still be cancelled at short notice. The airline, whose British heritage makes it a symbol of Hong Kong's colonial past, is also in a political bind.

 

China's civil aviation regulator demanded that the airline suspend staff who joined or backed the protests from flights in its airspace, pushing the carrier's shares past Monday's 10-year low.

 

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.

 

(Additional reporting by Felix Tam, Noah Sin, Donny Kwok, Greg Torode and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore and Stella Qiu in Beijing; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Angus MacSwan)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-14

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China is not going to give in to an autonomous government for Hong Kong...or cut the strings they still hold on Taiwan...

 

Their history of negotiations with dissidents is to crush the opposition...openly and secretively...

 

Once fear sets in...game over for Hong Kong...

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Hong Kong airport resumes flights after clashes, mass protests

By Tom Westbrook

 

2019-08-14T000411Z_1_LYNXNPEF7D001_RTROPTP_4_HONGKONG-PROTESTS.JPG

Anti-Extradition bill protesters distribute leaflets to passengers during a mass demonstration at the Hong Kong international airport, in Hong Kong, China, August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

 

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's airport resumed operations on Wednesday, rescheduling hundreds of flights that had been disrupted over the past two days as protesters clashed with riot police in a deepening crisis in the Chinese-controlled city.

 

Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters, angered by a perceived erosion of freedoms, have plunged the Asian financial hub into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

 

About 30 protesters remained at the airport early on Wednesday while workers scrubbed it clean of blood and debris from overnight. Check-in counters reopened to queues of weary travellers who had waited overnight for their flights.

 

Police condemned violent acts by protesters overnight and said on Wednesday a large group had "harassed and assaulted a visitor and a journalist". Five people were detained, bringing the total number of people arrested since the protests began in June to more than 600, police said.

 

Hong Kong's Airport Authority said on Tuesday operations at the city's international airport had been seriously disrupted, as riot police used pepper spray to disperse thousands of black-clad protesters.

 

The Hang Seng stock index fell to a seven-month low on Tuesday and embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the city had been pushed into a state of "panic and chaos".

 

China condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, saying the clashes showed "sprouts of terrorism". The protests represent one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

 

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997.

 

The protests began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China but have swelled into wider calls for democracy.

 

Check-in operations at the airport were suspended late on Tuesday afternoon, a day after an unprecedented shutdown. Thousands of peaceful protesters had swarmed the arrivals and departures halls earlier on Tuesday, chanting, singing and waving banners.

 

However, some protesters used luggage trolleys to blockade the doors to customs checkpoints. Protesters also scuffled with police later in the evening and several police vehicles were blocked amid heated scenes, according to Reuters witnesses.

 

(Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Paul Tait)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-14

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

Hong Kong Chief Exectuve Carrie Lam warned that Hong Kong risked being "smashed to pieces".

If she really cares she should step down..... this would relieve some of the tensions

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7 hours ago, Puchaiyank said:

China is not going to give in to an autonomous government for Hong Kong...or cut the strings they still hold on Taiwan...

 

Their history of negotiations with dissidents is to crush the opposition...openly and secretively...

 

Once fear sets in...game over for Hong Kong...

That might have worked 30 years ago, but look at the sheer number of cameras. Everything get recorded and shared.  Maybe the genie of freedom is out of the bottle? Time will tell.

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Lam has to go - she is too soft. The world has been filling with soft leaders who are letting things go pear-shaped.

HK needs a leader who can cosy up enough to Beijing to get elected, then turn hard when in power. Politics is Machiavellian and it takes balls, but unfortunately the free world has been turning faggish.

 

The extradition bill should have been drafted to include only certain (non-political) crimes. China doesn't want HK to be a safe haven for political dissidents but China is not so stupid as to think they can crush this rebellion by force as they did Tiananmen. Game on.

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4 hours ago, JamesBlond said:

Lam has to go - she is too soft. The world has been filling with soft leaders who are letting things go pear-shaped.

HK needs a leader who can cosy up enough to Beijing to get elected, then turn hard when in power. Politics is Machiavellian and it takes balls, but unfortunately the free world has been turning faggish.

 

The extradition bill should have been drafted to include only certain (non-political) crimes. China doesn't want HK to be a safe haven for political dissidents but China is not so stupid as to think they can crush this rebellion by force as they did Tiananmen. Game on.


"China is not stupid as to think they can crush this rebellion by force".  Yes, I think you're correct.

The people behind the demonstrations have deliberately put them kids into the airport, daring Beijing to carry out a strong removal of them people at the airport. It's the bait they've thrown down, let's see if Beijing takes the bait, let's see if Beijing violantly removes the demonstrators. And if Beijing takes the bait, well, the "real power" behind the demonstrations have achieved their goal. Their goal is to make Beijing look bad, they want to demonize Beijing.

I hope Beijing doesn't take the bait, and I hope they allow them kids to carry on being at the airport. This will simply harm Hong Kong's economy,  the airport is actually a massive transport hub for Asia, and hopefully, the general public and media will show what's really happening.

And what is happening ? Hong Kong's economy is being slowly destroyed by these kids. Hopefully, those kids will see sense, and leave the airport. Leave the airport themselves, no need for riot police to boot them out.

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