Airport staff advised passengers to leave the airport for their own safety, but traffic outside was at a near standstill, and public transportation was clogged. Some passengers and departing protesters opted to walk.
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei says the crackdown on demonstrations in Hong Kong has become more brutal since U.S. President Donald Trump characterized them as “riots” and an issue between Hong Kong and China.
Ai, who has lived in Berlin since 2015, told the AP on Monday that Trump’s comments at a campaign rally earlier this month that China will “have to deal with that themselves, they don’t need advice” was a “very bad signal.”
He says the U.S. “should be supporting freedom, and democracy, and freedom of speech — for a major power to give that kind of signal to another, authoritarian society is very improper and it will cost more life and more blood.”
Ai says he’s convinced the “Hong Kong people will not be the loser, because they’re on the right side of history.”
The chief executive of Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways says there will be “disciplinary consequences” for employees involved in “illegal protests,” as the airline joins a slate of businesses that have appeased and apologized to China in recent days over political flaps.
Rupert Hogg’s comments Monday came just hours before the Hong Kong airport announced it was shutting down after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators occupied the main terminal.
Hogg warned in an internal memo to employees that the company has a “zero tolerance approach to illegal activities,” referring apparently to protests unapproved by the police force.
Companies from luxury fashion brands to bubble tea shops have been under pressure to distance themselves from protesters and declare their support for the ruling Communist Party’s position on Hong Kong.
Hong Kong police have defended their tactics and use of force against protesters during another weekend of violent clashes, including using tear gas inside a train station, deploying officers disguised as protesters and allegedly shooting at demonstrators at close range with pepper-spray pellets.
The police attempted to fend off criticism Monday about widely shared videos from Sunday night’s clashes, including graphic images of a woman who was shot in the eye and of an arrest in which officers dressed like protesters pinned a bleeding demonstrator to the ground.
Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung acknowledged that police use decoy officers in some operations but would not go into details.
“Our decoy officers do not take part in any unlawful activities,” Tang insisted.
Police confirmed that officers fired one shot of tear gas into a train station Sunday, saying it was necessary to disperse violent protesters. Addressing criticism of riot police firing pepper spray pellets at close range, officials said the weapon was not lethal but they would review the incident.
They said they were still gathering evidence about whether a young female protester who was pictured with a bleeding eye was hit by police.
Hong Kong’s airport, one of the world’s busiest, has canceled all remaining flights for the day after thousands of pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal.
Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement Monday afternoon that the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations. It said all check-in services for departing flights had been suspended.
It said only those flights that have already completed the check-in process will move ahead.
Hong Kong has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into police conduct.
The protest movement’s demands also include the resignation of the Chinese territory’s leader and an election for her successor.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle.
Hong Kong police showed off water cannons Monday as pro-democracy street protests stretched into their 10th week with no sign of either side backing down.
The demonstration of specially equipped armored cars came after another weekend of protests at Hong Kong’s bustling international airport and on the streets of one of the city’s main shopping districts.
Legislators and journalists were invited to witness the display of extreme crowd control tactics, which Amnesty International warned last week could lead to serious injuries if misused within Hong Kong’s confined spaces.
During the weekend protests, website Hong Kong Free Press showed footage of one arrest that appeared to include officers pinning a demonstrator pressed to the ground. The young man, who said his name was Chow Ka-lok and asked for a lawyer, was shown with a bleeding head wound and said he had a broken tooth.