Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police, Occupy Airport
(Bloomberg) -- Protesters clashed with police on the streets of Hong Kong while a sit-in at the international airport remained peaceful as the city endured its 10th straight weekend of anti-China demonstrations.
Police fired tear gas at protesters in the Tai Wai neighborhood in the northern part of the city after they refused to disperse. The activists took to the street after being denied a permit to demonstrate in the nearby Tai Po area. Others briefly blocked a major road tunnel across Victoria Harbour. In a statement police called on protesters to stop blocking roads and engaging in “illegal activities.”
On the opposite side of the city, thousands of demonstrators occupied the arrivals hall of the Hong Kong airport for a second day, greeting passengers with “Free Hong Kong” chants. Only departing passengers with tickets or boarding passes and valid travel documents were being allowed to enter the check-in area at Terminal 1 until Sunday night, the last of the three-day demonstration there. Security personnel have been deployed.
The Saturday demonstrations are part of a flurry of planned weekend protests across the city -- most of which have been denied permission by authorities. It also follows China’s civil aviation authority ordering Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s main airline, to ban all employees who supported or joined the recent protests from flying to the mainland, one of the strongest signs yet that Beijing is losing its patience with the demonstrations. The sit-in also affects one of the world’s busiest airports.
Cathay suspended a pilot from flying who had been detained while participating in a protest, the airline said in a statement. It also fired two workers for “misconduct.” They allegedly leaked information about the travel arrangements of a Hong Kong police soccer team, the South China Morning Post reported.
“As always our actions and responsibilities are focused on the safety and security of our operations,” the airline said.
The Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation said in a statement it deeply regrets the decisions made by China’s civil aviation authority, adding that the authority should respect the Hong Kong citizens’ rights. Cathay Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg told staff in a memo that the airline would comply with the Chinese aviation authority’s directive, the South China Morning Post reported.
Weekend protests come days after a general strike that disrupted the financial hub’s morning rush hour, leaving traffic jammed, subway lines suspended and dozens of flights canceled. Those demonstrations, which also ended in tear gas and dispersal operations, prompted local leader Carrie Lam to warn of a “very dangerous situation” as her China-backed government struggles to quell an unpredictable and increasingly widespread movement.
Hong Kong police denied requests for rallies in Tai Po and Wong Tai Sin on Saturday, and in Sham Shui Po and the Eastern District on Sunday. Only protests in the city’s Victoria Park were granted, according to the Hong Kong Economic Times. The police denied rumors that they planned to arrest demonstrators en masse without warning this weekend, the South China Morning Post reported.
Protests sparked in June by a bill easing extraditions to the mainland have widened to include demands for Lam’s resignation. They are having an increasing impact on the economy and daily life in one of the world’s most densely crowded cities, raising concerns that Beijing will send in its army to restore order.
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