3 Wednesday, August 14, 2019 06:07

Hong Kong airport reopens after overnight clashes, mass protests

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.
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 SiuTen 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 hundreds of weary travelers 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, police said, bringing the number of people arrested since the protests began in June to more than 600.

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump said the Chinese government was moving troops to the border with Hong Kong and urged calm. Trump described events in Hong Kong as tricky but hoped it would work out for everybody, including China, and “for liberty” without anyone getting hurt or killed.

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. ‘LET THE WORLD KNOW’ Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said on Wednesday it had obtained an interim injunction to stop people from obstructing airport operations.

It said protesters could only demonstrate in designated areas. Operations at the city’s international airport were seriously disrupted as riot police used pepper spray to disperse thousands of black-clad protesters. Some tourists stopped to look at posters put up by protesters in the airport’s arrival hall.

. “To do a protest you have to get people’s attention. Protests at the airport can let the whole world know what is happening in Hong Kong,”.....

News Code: 300273  |  Reuters
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