Police have clashed with pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong’s international airport immediately after flights had been disrupted for a second day operating amid a deepening political crisis in the monetary hub.
A largely peaceful sit-in on Tuesday that saw thousands of black-clad protesters jamming the most important terminal – some chanting, singing and waving banners – erupted into violence in the evening, with riot police firing pepper spray and making use of batons immediately after demonstrators seized a man they claimed was an undercover mainland Chinese agent.
The scuffles broke out immediately after police appeared at the departures entrance in an apparent try to assist paramedics attain the man, who was injured. Quite a few police automobiles had been blocked by protesters and riot police moved in, pushing some protesters back and making use of pepper spray. At 1 point, a police officer pulled out a gun.
Protesters also barricaded some passageways in the airport with luggage trolleys, metal barriers and other objects. At least two protesters had been taken away by police.
Separately, a reporter for the International Instances newspaper, a Communist Celebration mouthpiece, was also held by protesters. Footage showed the reporter’s hands becoming tied to a luggage auto.
The protest on Tuesday prompted the cancellation of hundreds of flights for a second consecutive day, with Hong Kong’s Airport Authority stated operations at the airport had been “seriously disrupted” and that departing passengers had been unable to attain immigration counters.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda-Abdel Hamid, reporting from the airport later on Tuesday, stated calm had returned following the departure of most protesters from the website.
“It is not clear exactly where the protesters will come back tomorrow,” she stated.
Meanwhile, citing United States intelligence, President Donald Trump stated later on Tuesday that China’s government was moving troops to its border with Hong Kong.
It was not right away clear if Trump, who also urged calm among protesters and the authorities, was reporting fresh movements or movements close to the border currently reported in the media.
“Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Every person really should be calm and protected!” he tweeted.
China hits back at UN
Now in its 10th week, the anti-government protests have sparked issues Beijing could possibly intervene straight to quit the unrest.
The Chinese government has been increasingly ratcheting up its rhetoric towards the protesters, saying on Monday they are displaying the initial indicators of “terrorism”. This week, state-owned media have run videos displaying trucks purportedly carrying paramilitary riot police massing close to the border with Hong Kong for “workouts”.
The increasingly violent clashes among police and protesters have roiled Hong Kong as thousands of residents have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against what they see as an erosion of freedoms and autonomy beneath Chinese rule.
The protests, which started with opposition to an extradition bill that would have permitted suspects to be attempted in mainland China, have grown to incorporate demands for the proposed law’s total withdrawal, the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and an independent inquiry into police conduct against demonstrators.
Protesters in the former British colony say they are fighting the erosion of the “1 nation, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong considering that China took it back in 1997.
On Tuesday, Michele Bachelet, the United Nations human rights commissioner, urged Hong Kong authorities to exercising restraint and investigate proof of their forces firing tear gas at protesters in methods banned beneath international law.
In response, China’s mission to the UN in Geneva rejected what it named a “wrongful statement” by Bachelet, saying it amounted to interference in its domestic affairs and sent “the incorrect signal to violent criminal offenders”.
In a statement, the mission stated Hong Kong protesters had smashed public facilities, paralysed the airport, blocked public transport and employed lethal weapons, “displaying a tendency of resorting to terrorism”.
“The Chinese central government firmly supports Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the HK SAR government in discharging their duties in compliance with the law and supports the Hong Kong police force and judicial organs in enforcing the law decisively,” it stated.
Hong Kong legal professionals say Beijing could possibly be paving the way to use anti-terrorism laws to attempt to quell the demonstrations.
The clashes at the airport followed an unprecedented airport shutdown the prior day.
Initially, the scene was peaceful as knots of protesters spoke to travellers, explaining the aims of their movement. Floors and walls had been covered with missives penned by activists and other artwork.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, we are fighting for the future of our household,” study 1 protest banner at the airport.
“I believe paralysing the airport will be efficient in forcing Carrie Lam to respond to us … it can additional stress Hong Kong’s economy,” Dorothy Cheng, 17, told Reuters news agency.
For her element, Beijing-backed Lam insists that she will not quit.
“My duty goes beyond this certain variety of protest,” she stated on Tuesday, adding that violence had pushed the territory into a state of “panic and chaos”.
“Take a minute to appear at our city, our household,” she told aa news conference in the government headquarters complicated, which is fortified behind a practically two-metre-higher water-filled barricades.
“Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?”
The rallies present Chinese President Xi Jinping with 1 of his most significant challenges considering that he came to energy in 2012.
Will China run out of patience with Hong Kong protests?