Passengers queue at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday after the airport reopened a day after flights were halted due to a protest. Photo: REUTERS
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Hong Kong leader urges calm as protest tensions rise

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the city's recovery from protests that have swept the Asian financial hub could take a long time and that she would be responsible for rebuilding its economy "after the violence eases".

Her comments followed serious developments in the growing crisis over the past week. Beijing said on Monday the protests had begun to show "sprouts of terrorism", and the city's airport was closed in an unprecedented move that forced hundreds of flight cancellations.

As she spoke to reporters, her voice cracking with emotion at one point, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell by more than 1% to its lowest level since Jan 4. The index was down around 1.5% soon after.

She said violence by protesters had pushed Hong Kong into "a state of panic and chaos".

"Hong Kong, as an open, free, very tolerant, economically stable city will see severe wounds ... The recovery may take a long time," she said.

The increasingly violent demonstrations have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting Chinese leader Xi Jinping with one of his biggest challenges since he came to power in 2012.

The protests began as opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China for those facing criminal charges but have grown into wider calls for democracy.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement enshrining some autonomy for Hong Kong when China took it back from Britain in 1997.

They also say police have used excessive force, firing tear gas and bean bag pellets at close range, and are calling for an independent inquiry into the crisis.

"I ask everybody to put aside our differences and calm down, take a minute to look at our city, our home. Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?" said Lam.

The protesters have called for Lam's resignation.

China said on Monday the protests had reached a critical juncture.

"Protesters have been frequently using extremely dangerous tools to attack the police in recent days, constituting serious crimes with sprouts of terrorism emerging," Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office spokesman Yang Guang said in Beijing.

Some Hong Kong legal experts say the official description of terrorism could lead to the use of anti-terror laws.

Hong Kong's airport reopened on Tuesday with some flight resumptions but hundreds of others were still cancelled, with airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and Malaysian Airlines advising travellers of rescheduling.

The airport was the latest focus of protests that began two months ago.

Its administrator blamed demonstrators for halting flights on Monday but the exact trigger for the closure was not clear because protesters occupying the arrivals hall for the past five days have been peaceful.

Most protesters had left the airport shortly after midnight, with about 50 protesters still there on Tuesday morning. Hong Kong's airport is the eighth busiest by passenger traffic, handling 73 million passengers a year.

Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific said on its website it had cancelled more than 200 flights into and out of the airport on Tuesday and that it would only operate a limited number of flights for connecting passengers.

Shares in Cathay, which fell to a 10-year-low on Monday, continued their slide on Tuesday and were down more than 4.5% in morning trading.

The company is caught in crosswinds between Beijing and pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong after the Chinese civil aviation regulator demanded it suspend personnel who engaged in or supported the protests from staffing flights into its airspace.

The closure of the airport added to that pressure. A Reuters reporter saw more than 100 travellers queuing up at Cathay's ticketing counter early on Tuesday.

Kate Flannery, an Australian traveller heading for Paris, said the handling of the protests appeared chaotic on Monday night.

"The airport authority didn't deal with the situation," she said. "I felt like I was walking around and nobody gave us information."

A Cathay customer officer at the airport, who declined to provide his name, said nearly all the airline's flights were full.

"It is possible that the airport authority will cancel more flights as they need to control the air traffic movements at the Hong Kong International Airport," he said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

48 Comments
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The only terrorists are the Beijing police force.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Step one: Infiltrate

Step two: Suggest the protestors are terrorists

Step three: The infiltrators will commit a terroristic act

Step four: The government sends in troops to "stamp out terrorism."

Protests end, and over the next month many of the leaders will quietly be arrested and disappear.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

When will democratic governments around the world wake up and isolate China from commerce and political connections until the brutal and despotic CCP falls?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The protesters are doing what China's leadership fears the most - practicing democracy. If even a small part of the Chinese people were to demand freedom and democracy, China's government would collapse, and the corrupt party elite would have to give up their power and wealth.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

China won't let the Empire wannabe fall because of some protesters. They still have a plan to export over 300 million people worldwide to other countries for all kinds of nefarious reasons.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Any group of people will a population equal or greater to Liechtenstein, or perhaps even smaller, has the right to independence on the very ground they stand on. This should be obvious to all people whether its Hong Kong, Crimea. Quebec, Scotland or even a U.S. city or state wanting to cede. Anything else is being a slave to despots and favoring it. But there are a lot of very stupid people in the world.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

When asked their names in interviews, the protestors should all say Xi.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Videos coming in today from Shenzen indicate that China is staging massive resources along the border.

Anyone that thinks a repeat of Tiananmen won't happen is delusional.

The PRC has no compunction about crushing resistance and killing innocent people in the process.

Bad things are about to happen!!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

If protesters behaved this way in the US, (causing a disruption bad enough to close an airport ) I wonder how they would be treated? I'm not against the protest, just wondering how another Government would react?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The exact trigger for the closure was not clear because protesters occupying the arrivals hall since Friday have been peaceful.

Yes, I wonder too why the airport decided to close yesterday. I imagine the officials were told to close the airport by government officials to counter the sympathy from those using the airport. The one country, two system approach is obviously not working and the HKG administrators need to ensure the protestors concerns are addressed. It is easy for this to stop if the government honestly adheres to their promises to the world (not just HKG).

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Lamilly, just wondering how another Government would react?

Simple, the government just needs to talk with the students and cancel extradition bill completely. A government that respects the people would agree to do that.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I'm not against the protest, just wondering how another Government would react?

Open discussion channels with the protesters. Listen to them, talk to them.

Yes, I wonder too why the airport decided to close yesterday.

I would guess that ensuring the security of travelers would have become impossible in those conditions, better close it than facing security issues in an international airport.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If protesters behaved this way in the US, (causing a disruption bad enough to close an airport ) I wonder how they would be treated? I'm not against the protest, just wondering how another Government would react?

People in the US have the right to choose who stands for elections and for whom they vote. There are also processes to have govt officials removed from office.

Only govt accounts say there was a reason to close the airport. Other sources say the protesters were not causing any issues, were passing out fliers with their grievances, and were completely peaceful.

Protesting is an American cultural thing, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to assemble. Americans DEMAND them, for popular and unpopular speech/protests. Hong Kongers do understand.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I question the taking it to the streets..., I mean airport, is going to garner much support from the people travelling, whose lives have been disrupted through no fault of their own.I remember the Thai opposition party doing that some years ago on a greater scale and it wasn't a good look. They've gotta do better than that.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

 If even a small part of the Chinese people were to demand freedom and democracy, China's government would collapse, and the corrupt party elite would have to give up their power and wealth.

It didn't happen last time. Chinese people engaged in mass pro-democracy protests before Hong Kong. They paid in blood.

And while they ultimately failed, they fired up democracy movements across the world in 1989, setting off the collapse of communism governments in Europe, ending communism in Mongolia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_Revolution_of_1990

and boosting democracy movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The 1990 Wild Lily movement was a push for universal suffrage (in protest against the National Assembly's selection of the Kuomintang's Lee Teng Hui for a six-year presidential term as the sole, unopposed candidate).

Whatever happens in Hong Kong, they were not the first to demand democracy in China. They're a few decades late for that honour. The China pro-democracy protests weren't just a handful of students, it was a movement that affected cities all across China, and ordinary citizens were in on it. They did this at far greater personal risk, whether they were aware of that or not.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Lam can make almost all of this end tomorrow.

She just needs to step down.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Make no mistake - they are falsely claiming "terrorism" so that they can try to justify the deadly crackdown that's about to come. This is what tyranny looks like.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

She said violence by protesters had pushed Hong Kong into "a state of panic and chaos".

cough, the violence was caused by rent-a-triad and CCP, the protesters have been mostly peaceful.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Make no mistake - they are falsely claiming "terrorism" so that they can try to justify the deadly crackdown that's about to come. This is what tyranny looks like.

And then what Crazy Joe?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I fear we're going to see another Tiananmen massacre. There's no way the Communist government of China will let Hong Kong get what it wants.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I fear we're going to see another Tiananmen massacre. There's no way the Communist government of China will let Hong Kong get what it wants.

Not necessarily. While the Chinese government is authoritarian and can be brutal within their own borders, they are trying to put forth a modern, first-world image to the rest of the world. If they step in and step on HK, it will do serious damage note only to their reputation insofar as how they deal with HK, but also will somewhat destroy the image they've been trying to cultivate of being more advanced than they used to be. Dealing with a declining image world-wide already as a result of Trump going on about them, such a hit could be crippling for them.

They may very well move on HK, but it's not something that's they're going to do lightly, nor without getting off lightly.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

China's intent is to keep the current chosen leader in power, else they would have removed her. Seems by reading both sides, it is the police force that has been the most aggressive and using tactics that escalates a tense situation. Without a doubt this is not Tiananmen reborn. Time will tell.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Neither side backing down, more and more violent incidents.  feels like a crackdown is coming.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lam says, 'Hong Kong, as an open, free, very tolerant, economically stable city......', and the protesters rightly want to keep it that way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

kyronstavicToday 08:04 am JST

When will democratic governments around the world wake up and isolate China from commerce and political connections until the brutal and despotic CCP falls?

Probably because so many of those bankrupt democratic countries cant because they need the Chinese money to keep themselves a float

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I hope the people in Taiwan that are thinking about reunification with Mainland China are paying attention to how Beijing respects personal freedom and rights.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Im not sure where along the process did it became a cry for “freedom” and “democracy.” The very extradition bill was created by Hong Kong. They should rewrite the bill and cover the legal loopholes in question. Sit down and come up with the bill you want. The same with all the protesting by the Koreans. Why not work on solving the problem with the Japanese instead of just making noise? Not a big fan of violent protests. I am neither Chinese or Hong Kongnese or Taiwanese. Just am trying to make sense of global events.

Chan Tong-kai, the man who murdered his girlfriend during a vacation in Taiwan last month, may get away with murder as he is only charged with theft and handling stolen goods.

The 19-year-old man was never charged with murder because Taiwanese investigators never had the chance to question him, according to Taiwan News. Other analysts also suggested that he may actually get away with it since there are legal loopholes in how the judicial system is recognized between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Chan, along with his girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing, went to Taipei, Taiwan to have a vacation for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 13. However, only Chan returned home on Feb. 17, which raised concerns for the 20-year-old’s parents asking him about their daughter.

He was caught by Hong Kong police on March 13 and admitted he strangled Poon as he was enraged by the fact that she may have been pregnant with another man’s child. Chan also admitted that he stuffed her lifeless body inside the suitcase and dumped it on a grass bank outside Zhuwei metro station in New Taipei City.

Taiwan has reportedly asked for Hong Kong’s assistance in the case, but without the suspect in the former’s custody, they won’t be able to proceed with the murder charges. Unless a special arrangement is made, Hong Kong will not recognize Taiwan’s jurisdiction.

This was why the extradition bill was proposed. It simply means that this murderer can be brought to justice by being extradited for his crimes. Seems fair enough.

The problem is that many people in HK seem to be misguided by what the bill actually is, thinking that promoting anti-Chinese propaganda would get them extradited to China. This is of course incorrect. Criminals residing in HK need to be assessed by HK law first before being extradited. This is the same law endorsed by the former British governing body, so everybody can agree that it meets international standards. If the severity of the crime exceeds HK terms, then those criminals must be extradited.

It seems that some people consider the bill to be a threat made by China, where in fact it was proposed by the HK government and its own legal system. It really has nothing to do with China at all.

Easier said than done but both Hong Kong and Korea can work more on solving the issue instead of raising the issue in my opinion

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I doubt Beijing will let Lam resign. The yellow vest protests have been going on in France for some time and there are injuries too. US would probably have homeland security detain (since they handle airports) and spin to call them terrorists and disrupting the economy. That being said, China has no outlet (free and fair elections, free speech, etc).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, they get free speech once...then they disappear.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Crazyjoe:

I recall another country claiming terrorism as the right to invade wherever, kill whomever, and national sovereignty be dinged. And they call themselves the best country in earth and Beacon of democracy...igg

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Make no mistake - they are falsely claiming "terrorism" so that they can try to justify the deadly crackdown that's about to come. This is what tyranny looks like.

You are right, Crazy Joe. And juminRhee just above is also right. Keep that skeptical frame of mind and look at your own country - because China is not the only country that will do this.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Chan Tong-kai, the man who murdered his girlfriend during a vacation in Taiwan last month, may get away with murder as he is only charged with theft and handling stolen goods.

...

This was why the extradition bill was proposed. It simply means that this murderer can be brought to justice by being extradited for his crimes. Seems fair enough.

that's not entirely correct, Taiwan has officially refused the murderer if it was at the price of the extradition bill. In addition a one time extradition agreement could have been found if needed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

^ further to the Chan Tong-Kai case, Taiwan government actually did propose a few times to proceed on that, but HK government decided to ignore those requests and wanted to use this as an excuse to implement the extradition law.

Also, people are not in flavor of the law is that no one trusts the so-call law or justice systems in China.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

theFu:

Why do you continue to ignore the truth and the fact? It does you no credit.

 Again, I refer you to the “Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment” which does not extend to all American citizens of US territories (which were initially annexed by the US). Not all “People in the US have the right to choose who stands for elections and for whom they vote.” These US citizens are not able to vote for a President and have some other citizenship restrictions

“Protesting is an American cultural thing, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to assemble. Americans DEMAND them, for popular and unpopular speech/protests.”

The US National Guard often uses tear gas, batons and rubber bullets against protester. I, again, refer you to the Jackson State and State protests in which the law enforcers killed 6 and wounded 20 using LIVE ammunition.

Why do you choose to ignore the truth? Check the facts.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The very extradition bill was created by Hong Kong. They should rewrite the bill and cover the legal loopholes in question. 

You seem to be confusing the people of Hong Kong with the government in Hong Kong. To understand this better, you might spend a few minutes studying the election system that Hong Kong uses, with particular reference to the percentage of directly elected seats in the legislature.

It's also worth having a look at the history of pro-democracy parties, who were once able to command very strong public support; see if you can understand what their chances are in the Hong Kong electoral system of gaining control in the legislature.

Hong Kong people are used to their political representatives post-1997, in particular the leadership, being more or less openly pro-PRC, and behind the scenes, taking orders or deferring to PRC interests. They're also used to seeing the same in the wealthiest business leaders - former Tory party donor Li Ka Shing and the like - who are absurdly influential in Hong Kong politics, business, and society, and who were able to switch seamlessly from fawning over the colonial rulers of Hong Kong pre-handover to fawning over their masters in China.

Hong Kong people aren't too stupid to notice all this. Nor are they complacent about what the future holds for them. You don't have to support the burning of police stations to understand that these weeks of unrest represent a total collapse of public trust in the government and those who are given the job of protecting it. I recommend watching some of the videos on the SCMP's website - for example a day or two ago, when, as police were arresting protesters in Wong Tai Sin, the residents came out and started giving the police crap about it.

Something has snapped in people, and it's probably permanent. The 30 years of Tiananmen vigils, which almost every year have pulled huge crowds in Hong Kong, should be a very visible reminder that people were never blind about China. They have always been cynical about their leaders and the elite business enablers of China's encroachment. And there is only so far they would allow themselves to be pushed. When you focus on - now of all times - rewriting the extradition bill in some manner that would supposedly be acceptable to the general populace, you are completely missing the point.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Why do you continue to ignore the truth and the fact? It does you no credit.

Then let them vote if they want to be independent or if they want citizenship rights and be added to the flag with another star.

These US citizens are not able to vote for a President and have some other citizenship restrictions

Yes.

“Protesting is an American cultural thing, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to assemble. Americans DEMAND them, for popular and unpopular speech/protests.”

Yes

The US National Guard often uses tear gas, batons and rubber bullets against protester. I, again, refer you to the Jackson State and State protests in which the law enforcers killed 6 and wounded 20 using LIVE ammunition.

Why do you choose to ignore the truth? Check the facts.

Oh, boy.....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

wipeout: The extradition bill is just the tip of the ice burg. What the RIOTER really want is independence and China will never give them that, just as Spain will not give independence to Catalonia, India will not give independence to Kashmir, the US will not give independence to Hawaii or the Guam... Where is the support for the independence of these people? Where is the support for the independence of the Palestinians?

Many countries around the globe are in civil war either because they want independence or want to overthrow their government. Is HK ready to go to civil war?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I recommend watching some of the videos on the SCMP's website

During those troubled periods, when journalistic independence is questioned I would suggest to also add https://www.hongkongfp.com/ to the list of online reading.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The extradition bill is just the tip of the ice burg. What the RIOTER really want is independence

Possibly. Though I'd be interested to know how you can prove that.

and China will never give them that

Agreed.

Is HK ready to go to civil war?

It looks to be ready for something. Whatever the Hong Kong government does - and it routinely mishandles protest and opposition, and has done ever since 1998 - is going to bring more people out. Much as the Hong Kong government and PRC would love to smear these people, it is not going to be able to drive a wedge between them and the wider population. If these rioters had no general support, the whole thing would have fizzled out by now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Eppee: "During those troubled periods, when journalistic independence is questioned I would suggest to also add https://www.hongkongfp.com/ to the list of online reading."

This is NOT unbiased and independent journalism. Very biased and very anti-Chinese.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

food.. for thought.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

bass4funk: "Never have, never would."

You're right you don't check the facts and never would. That's why you had to change handles after Obama won -- you just could not justify your comments. Same here; although you haven't changed names yet you did call Trump a lunatic, and now bend down for him. As for not making things up, you have continually plagiarized The National Review in your writings on this site.

"I’m sorry, so your point is what exactly?"

That all of your points are both copied and moot. If Trump said he's against what Hong Kong is doing, you'd post you are against what Hong Kong is doing (despite the lunatic!). If while you were typing Trump said he supported them, you'd backspace what you were typing in support of the opposite and post that you support them. Such a vacuous state of "journalism" we pretend to live in. "LOL", right?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think the protesters have crossed the line by some of protesters destructive activity. I won't be surprised if the Chinese Government sends its military to HK and declare martial law. HK is China sovereignty and the Chinese Government won't be tolerated such as destructive activity. This problem was Chinese domestic affair and so other Government will not interfere Chinese domestic problem.

The protesters must demonstrate peacefully and they should not destroy the Government's building and public property. Do not disturb travelers and stay away from the Airport.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is a pity that local politicians do not listen to whom elected them but to their master.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then let them vote if they want to be independent or if they want citizenship rights and be added to the flag with another star.

Completely irrelevant to these people not having the right to vote. One cannot simply snap one's fingers and change the law.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

bass4funk:

The rioters in HK are being treated no different to protesters on any other country including the US, India, France.... The function of the police is to maintain the rule of law. Fact check this!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Wipeout

Going against the extradition bill was the goal of this movement. This one and only big appeal has already been accepted by the HK government, so this bill has already fallen.

If you’d like to have more say in your government, declare your intentions, proposals, and solutions. No one is calling for independence, end to corruption, and so on. Without any leadership, it’s just a bunch of people sitting at an airport. There is no point being made.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This one and only big appeal has already been accepted by the HK government, so this bill has already fallen.

The demand of demonstrators concerning the bill was that it be withdrawn. So far, it has only been suspended, and opponents say that is insufficient.

But as I already said, you miss the point. Your solution was that the bill should be rewritten. Do you see any interest in drafting an extradition bill among the Hong Kong public at the moment?

Going against the extradition bill was the goal of this movement. 

That's disingenuous. People were vehemently opposed to the bill, certainly. But what makes you imagine overturning it was their sole focus and their only objective? The extradition bill was an opportunistic move by the government that in one go would have put Hong Kong citizens at risk of being extradited from Hong Kong to China.

It was a serious miscalculation, and it became a catalyst for pressures and frustrations that have always been there to boil over.

If you’d like to have more say in your government, declare your intentions, proposals, and solutions.

Here's the same advice I gave you last time. Find out about the Hong Kong electoral system; that will give you a clearer picture of how much say the people of Hong Kong have in their government. Do you know what percentage of seats in the Legislative Council are directly elected by the people? And do you understand the significance of that percentage in terms of representation? I think it's important that you take the trouble to find that out first. It might give you an understanding of where all this anger by ordinary citizens comes from; and how it is that once-peaceful people are running amok.

And to be frank, your ostensibly reasonable solution about talking it out is exactly what hasn't worked for Hong Kong citizens for the last 20 years (or before). Instead, they've been gradually pushed into a corner, they've had their rights attacked, and now they're lashing out. Their tactics may be wrong, their arguments (I've actually listened to some) may be borderline hysterical, and their behaviour may be highly disruptive to daily life; but this is what happens when people decide they've been pushed beyond their limit. It's also helps explain why a bunch of youngsters running riot in the streets have had plenty of sympathy from the general public in Hong Kong.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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