Hong Kong International Airport tries to get back to normal
Hong Kong’s international airport is trying to resume normal operations today (14 August) after pro-democracy demonstrators and riot police clashed overnight, forcing a shut down for the second consecutive day that cancelled hundreds of flights and tested the patience of passengers trying to leave the special administrative region.
Television news reports and online video showed riot police and protesters violently clashing with police using pepper spray to ward off demonstrators. One officer was also shown drawing his gun to threaten protesters who had forced him to the ground and taken his riot baton.
Protests have been roiling Hong Kong for more than 10 weeks, but the move to shut down the international airport has escalated the tension in the city and has drawn the attention of Beijing in ways protesters may regret. Beijing officials have made it clear their patience is wearing thin and made public a video of mainland Chinese paramilitary riot police massing on just across the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen.
Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and a top cargo facility as well. It handles between 65 million to 75 million passengers a year as well as more than 5 million tonnes of cargo. It opened officially in 1998, just after Hong Kong was handed back to China from the UK.
The protests began in June in opposition to proposed legislation that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party. They have since evolved into a broader push to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties, which are supposed to be guaranteed under the treaty between China and the UK and the Basic Law that governs Hong Kong.