Hong Kong International Airport is open and flights are on the way, but hundreds of demonstrators are also on the move. Yesterday the authorities put down the air traffic after thousands of demonstrators came to the airport.
Slowly all air traffic is resumed, although many flights have been canceled or delayed. According to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, the city is in panic and chaos. Her resignation is demanded at the protests.
Chinese army on hand
China, which governs the city on the condition of certain democratic rights, compared the protests with terrorism. The country holds a semi-military exercise close to the border. “Images have been distributed through the Chinese media,” says correspondent Garrie van Pinxteren. “They indicate: if we want to intervene, we can and we are right around the corner with you.”
Van Pinxteren expects that, should it come to that, Beijing will first have Hong Kong ask for military support. Although Hong Kong has a certain degree of autonomy over mainland China, it believes that Beijing has the right to intervene if necessary,
On social media this video can be seen of a procession of military trucks in Shenzhen, a Chinese city near Hong Kong:
— Alexandre Krauss (@AlexandreKrausz) August 12, 2019
On the site of the airport you can see that flights are indeed leaving. Cathay Pacific, which has Hong Kong as its home port, has canceled 200 flights for today, including one from Schiphol.
It is not certain what the exact reason for the authorities was to stop all air traffic. Protesters occupied the airport in protest against the violence that the police use against demonstrators. The impact of the shutdown was huge: Hong Kong International Airport has 75 million travelers a year, making it one of the largest airports in the world.
Many images have been distributed online of the Hong Kong police acting hard against demonstrators. The Hong Kong Free Press website published a video of agents shooting pepper demonstrators a few meters away at demonstrators.
A woman was hit in her eye with a so-called blow bullet, a bag of bullets that do not penetrate the body. A photo of her bloody face is circulating, presumably she will lose her sight.
The protesters are furious about the police violence. They wear eye patches in solidarity with the woman. “The police are killing us,” it said on protest boards.
The authorities in Hong Kong defend police action. According to China, demonstrators’ actions are starting to get the features of terrorism. The use of that terminology led to many demonstrators leaving the airport for fear of arrest and heavy charges.
Top director Carrie Lam said that dialogue is only possible when the violence of the protest movement stops. She defended the police, according to her, police officers sometimes have to make decisions under difficult circumstances and they use as little violence as possible. She did not speak of ‘terrorism’, but the central Chinese government did.