China says HK protests ‘near terrorism’ as airport reopens

Hong Kong, August 14

China said Hong Kong’s protest movement had reached “near terrorism” on Wednesday, after a night of ugly clashes at the city’s airport where demonstrators set upon and detained two men they suspected of being government sympathisers.

Flights out of the financial hub resumed after two days of disruptions caused by unrest as thousands of protesters swarmed the terminal at one of the world's busiest airports, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of departures.

China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing called the behaviour at the airport no different to terrorism and said it must be severely punished.

Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have plunged the city into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. “We’re deeply sorry about what happened yesterday,” read a banner held up by a group of a few dozen demonstrators in the airport arrivals hall.

“We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions. Please accept our apologies,” the banner said.

In chaotic scenes that would once have been unthinkable for Hong Kongers, a peaceful sit-in at the airport turned violent late on Tuesday as protesters confronted and held a man they believed was an undercover Chinese agent.

Busloads of riot police arrived in response, clashing with furious demonstrators before withdrawing once the man was removed and leaving the terminal briefly in control of activists who then detained a Chinese reporter for a short time.

Protesters, who occupied the airport for five days — disrupting flights on Monday and Tuesday — mostly withdrew by daybreak, with several groups issuing statements blending contrition for the chaos with defiance of the authorities. — Reuters

Two pilots sacked for backing stir

  • Cathay Pacific Airways on Wednesday terminated the services of two pilots, who were suspended last week over their involvement  in Hong Kong protests
  • One of them was among more than 40 persons charged with rioting for allegedly taking part in violent clashes with the police

Chinese ‘armoured vehicles’ near Hong Kong

  • Satellite images show armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles belonging to the China's paramilitary People's Armed Police parked in the city of Shenzhen bordering Hong Kong
  • The pictures show 500 or more vehicles at and around a soccer stadium. However, Chinese state media denied any direct relation of the buildup to the unrest
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