Po­lice, pro­test­ers clash at air­port

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

Po­lice took away sev­eral peo­ple they caught out­side the ar­rival hall and even­tu­ally re­treated.

Po­lice said they were try­ing to help am­bu­lance of­fi­cers reach an in­jured man whom pro­test­ers had cor­nered and de­tained for about two hours on sus­pi­cion of be­ing an un­der­cover agent from main­land China. Res­cuers even­tu­ally suc­ceeded in get­ting him to an am­bu­lance, lo­cal broad­caster RTHK reported.

Pro­test­ers then de­tained and beat a sec­ond man whom they also sus­pected of be­ing an un­der­cover agent.

Af­ter a brief pe­riod when planes were able to take off and land early in the day, au­thor­i­ties were forced to can­cel t he re­main­ing flights. The air­port author­ity sus­pended check-in ser­vices for de­part­ing flights as of 4:30 p.m., with de­part­ing flights that had com­pleted the process able to con­tinue to op­er­ate.

The air­port’s web­site showed at least 120 can­cel­la­tions and it ad­vised peo­ple not to come to the air­port, one of the world’s busiest.

The air­port dis­rup­tions es­ca­lated a sum­mer of demon­stra­tions aimed at what many Hong Kong res­i­dents see as an in­creas­ing ero­sion of the free­doms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party- ruled main­land China took over what had been a Bri­tish colony.

The protests have built on an op­po­si­tion move­ment that shut down much of the city for seven weeks in 2014 be­fore it even­tu­ally fiz­zled and its lead­ers were jailed on pub­lic dis­tur­bance charges.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing has omi­nously char­ac­ter­ized the cur­rent protest move­ment as some­thing ap­proach­ing “ter­ror­ism” that poses an “ex­is­ten­tial threat” to cit­i­zens.

While Bei­jing tends to de­fine ter­ror­ism broadly, ex­tend­ing it es­pe­cially to non­vi­o­lent move­ments op­pos­ing gov­ern­ment poli­cies in mi­nor­ity re­gions such as Ti­bet and Xin­jiang, its use of the term in re­la­tion to Hong Kong raised the prospect of greater vi­o­lence and the pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion of le­gal rights for those de­tained.

Hong Kong leader Car­rie Lam said the in­sta­bil­ity, chaos and vi­o­lence have placed the city on a “path of no re­turn.”

The black-clad demon­stra­tors have shown no sign of let­ting up on their cam­paign to force Lam’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­spond to their de­mands, in­clud­ing that she step down and scrap pro­posed leg­is­la­tion un­der which some sus­pects could be sent to main­land China, where crit­ics say they could face tor­ture and un­fair or po­lit­i­cally charged tri­als.

Lam has re­jected calls for di­a­logue, part of what an­a­lysts say is a strat­egy to wear down the op­po­si­tion move­ment through po­lice ac­tion while prompt­ing demon­stra­tors to take more vi­o­lent and ex­treme ac­tions that will turn the pub­lic against them.

Mean­while, para­mil­i­tary po­lice were as­sem­bling across the bor­der in the city of Shen­zhen for ex­er­cises that some saw as a threat to in­crease force against the mostly young pro­test­ers who have turned out by the thou­sands in the past 10 weeks.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted that U.S. in­tel­li­gence be­lieves that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is mov­ing troops to its bor­der with Hong Kong. He also tweeted that “Ev­ery­one should be calm and safe!” He pro­vided no ad­di­tional de­tails.

While China has yet to threaten us­ing the army — as it did against pro-democ­racy pro­test­ers in Bei­jing in 1989 — the Shen­zhen ex­er­cises were a sign of its abil­ity to crush the demon­stra­tions, even at the cost to Hong Kong’s rep­u­ta­tion as a safe haven for busi­ness and in­ter­na­tional ex­change. Images on the in­ter­net showed ar­mored per­son­nel car­ri­ers be­long­ing to the Peo­ple’s Armed Po­lice driv­ing in a con­voy Mon­day to­ward the site of the ex­er­cises.

VIN­CENT YU/AP

Po­lice ar­rest a pro­tester dur­ing a clash Tues­day at the air­port in Hong Kong.

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