Hong Kong airport targeted by protesters again
Pro-democracy protesters once again tried to shut down Hong Kong International Airport on Sunday (1 September) but were met with stiff resistance from police and airport security. The demonstrators did manage to shut down traffic on the Airport Express train for a time Sunday and also shut down the main road system serving the airport, but they moved on after several hours when riot police showed up to disperse the crowds. Demonstrators did not force a shutdown of the airport as they did in mid-August when they forced the airport to close for two days, causing 979 flights to be cancelled.
This past weekend was the 13th consecutive weekend of protests in Hong Kong, which have become increasingly more violent as the anti-government forces use firebombs, laser pointers and barricades to stave off police forces that have come under fire for using excessive force.
Demonstrators have also criticised flag carrier Cathay Pacific for cracking down on employees who participate in the protests. The airline was forced to part ways with its former CEO Rupert Hogg when Beijing threatened the airline’s China business.
China itself has taken a stronger line against the protests and has staged riot police just across the Hong Kong border with the mainland in Shenzhen. People’s Liberation Army troops appear to have been reinforced in Hong Kong, although it is unlikely – for now – that China will send in PLA forces to quell the unrest.
China’s official news agency Xinhua defended Hong Kong police in a recent commentary, saying “facing flagrant violent acts, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and the Hong Kong police took decisive measures to enforce the law and stop the violence, sending a clear warning to the rioters…The resolution of the HKSAR government and the police to restore social order and safeguard the rule of law in Hong Kong has won acknowledgment and support among Hong Kong residents, as well as all Chinese people.”
The agency warned rioters that “there are three bottom lines which must not be crossed: no one should harm the national sovereignty and security; no one should challenge the power of the central authorities and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR; no one should use Hong Kong to infiltrate and undermine the mainland.”