Hong Kong airport shut down, but flights to resume
Hong Kong’s international airport was shut down Monday (12 August) after thousands of protestors descended on the facility’s arrivals hall, but officials said flights would resume Tuesday (13 August).
The protestors have been fighting running battles with Hong Kong police for the past 10 weeks in various parts of the city but decided to strike a blow at the city’s airport, which they believe will prevent police from using the strong-arm tactics that have led to violent confrontations in days past.
The protests are drawing increasing attention from officials in Beijing who are ratcheting their rhetoric and describing the protests as a form of “terrorism”, which leads many to believe that if the protests continue, China will send in troops to quell the unrest. China has been massing a paramilitary force just across the border from Hong Kong, according to media reports.
“The radical demonstrators in Hong Kong have repeatedly attacked police with extremely dangerous tools in recent days, which constitutes a serious violent crime, and now they are descending into terrorism,” said Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Beijing. It was the first time the office had portrayed the protests in Hong Kong as “terrorism.”
“We should relentlessly crack down on such violent criminal acts without mercy, and we firmly support Hong Kong police and judicial authorities in bringing the criminals to justice as soon as possible,” Yang said. told reporters from state and Hong Kong media.
The Washington Post reported that Chinese armoured personnel carriers were heading toward the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, which Chinese media described as “large-scale exercises” by the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary unit. “The tasks and missions of the Armed Police include participating in dealing with rebellions, riots, serious violent and illegal incidents, terrorist attacks and other social security incidents,” Chinese media reported.
At the airport Monday, all departures had been stopped by late afternoon, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. Hong Kong’s airport authority said flights were fully suspended Monday at about 330pm, affecting tens of thousands of passengers. The authority said it was working on restarting operations from 6am local time on Tuesday morning.