Hong Kong Crisis: Airport Struggles to Reopen, US Announces Support for Protestors
By Staff- Agencies
Hong Kong's airport struggled to reopen on Tuesday with more than 300 flights cancelled, a day after protests brought the air transport hub to a standstill.
The city's leader Carrie Lam denounced the demonstrations saying that "lawbreaking activities in the name of freedom" were damaging the rule of law, and that the Asian financial hub's recovery from anti-government protests could take a long time.
On Tuesday morning, stranded passengers were seen lining up to catch their delayed flights, as airport authorities announced that it will implement rescheduling while blaming demonstrators for the disruption at one of the world's busiest airports.
Passengers with luggage were being checked in for flights, and only a handful of the thousands of protesters who flooded into the airport a day earlier remained in the building.
The flight status board at the departures hall showed several flights listed as "boarding soon" with new take-off times listed for others.
However, the South China Morning Post reported that as many as 160 outbound and 150 inbound flights were already cancelled for the rest of the day on Tuesday.
With a short warning, airport authorities cancelled all outgoing flights on Monday afternoon, as thousands of protesters started to gather in the departure and arrival areas of the airport.
The protests, which have seen both sides adopt increasingly extreme tactics, had until Monday been mostly confined to neighborhoods across the former British colony.
The airport protest, which caused the cancellation of more than 150 flights, was a rare case of the movement having a direct impact on business travel and tourism - mainstays of Hong Kong's economy.
Many protesters said on Monday that they were angered by Sunday's police crackdown, which injured several people and at least one female medic was blinded in one eye.
Police officers were seen firing tear gas at protesters inside a train station, while beating some with their batons.
There have also been allegations of authorities impersonating protesters and trying to stir up violence to draw the attention of the riot police.
As this developed, China has ratcheted up its rhetoric, accusing demonstrators of "wantonly" trampling on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order.
"Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging," Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.
Meanwhile, the US administration urged “all sides to refrain from violence.” While carefully paying lip service to Hong Kong being an internal Chinese matter, the unnamed White House official who spoke to the press said the US supported those “looking for democracy.”
The president’s top legislative ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky], was far more direct: “Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable... The world is watching.”