This week was yet another eventful one in the financial hub of Hong Kong, home to 7.5 million citizens.
The following update is part of The Millennial Source’s continuing coverage of the months-long protests, which show no sign of slowing down. For further context, please see our feature article on the current situation in Hong Kong and its implications for Beijing’s One-China policy.
This post contains images and videos that some may find distressing. All images were captured by passers-by, protest participants and journalists.
11th August 2019 – Sunday
On Sunday, travelers to Hong Kong were greeted at the airport by large crowds behind metal barriers, dressed primarily in black and wearing face masks. The group chanted “Hong Kong police colluded with triads”, handed out flyers and held up signs.
The reasons for participating in the airport demonstration varied among the protesters. Some said that with Hong Kong’s economy so reliant on tourism, protests that impede travel will capture the attention of their government. Others aim to attract international support for the anti-One-China movement by appealing to travelers from around the world.
Still others rallied in anger over the recent dismissal of Cathay Pacific Airlines staff. A pilot was terminated for participating in one of the city’s protests. Two other employees evidently lost their jobs for leaking information about the travel arrangements of a Hong Kong police soccer team.
On Friday, August 9, Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg stated that all staff would comply with Beijing’s regulations. Staff who support protests would be banned from working on flights to the mainland and its airspace.
In an email sent to Cathay Pacific staff, Hogg wrote,
“Cathay Pacific Group’s operations in mainland China are key to our business.
We are therefore legally required to follow CAAC regulations and, as is the case with any notices issued by any regulatory authority having jurisdiction over us, we must and will comply.”
The Sunday morning airport demonstration came only a few hours after multiple other protests across the island led to seven injuries and the arrest of 16 people.
By Sunday afternoon, other parts of the city had descended into chaos. Protesters shared air-dropped leaflets detailing police action plans with Millennial Source journalists.
Demonstrators migrated between Hong Kong districts, including Causeway Bay, Tsim Tsa Tsui and Sham Shui Po. Chants such as “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time!” reverberated around the city. While police attempted to quell the demonstrations with teargas and batons, protesters threw bricks and a reported petrol bomb, injuring police officers.
One woman who was performing first aid on a fellow protester was shot in the eye with a police beanbag round. She ultimately lost the injured eye.
Earlier, police spokesman P.K. Tang stated in a news briefing that police are now using “decoy operations” to arrest “core radicals.” Journalist Mary Hui shared video of a police officer disguising himself as a protester, then furiously swinging his baton at surrounding protesters and civilians.
The protesters who retaliated against the assailant were later arrested.
Longer video showing police disguised as protesters wildly swinging batons & hitting protesters+civilians, who likely thought the men were violent gang members. Protester who beats the disguised assailant (actually cop) @ 0:43 later arrested, bloodied face mashed into ground pic.twitter.com/IxHDwm1sEZ
Monday, August 12 marked the fourth consecutive day of airport protests. For the first time, protesters succeeded in halting airport operations. Thousands of people joined the airport rally, which led to the government cancelling all flights scheduled to depart after 4 p.m., due to “signs of terrorism” from the protesters.
In response to the airport rallies, Yang Guang, spokesperson for Beijing’s office for Hong Kong affairs, stated that “Hong Kong has arrived at a critical point.” He added that “These violent, illegal actions must be met with a determined legal crackdown, with no softening of hands or any sign of mercy.”
Signs bearing the words “an eye for an eye” (a reference to the demonstrator wounded by police beanbag fire) and chants condemning police violence filled both the arrival and departure terminals of the airport. Many demonstrators said that they had chosen the airport for the rally because it was less likely that police would fire tear gas in the presence of international travelers.
Lam was constantly interrupted during the speech, with one reporter yelling as she was leaving, “Mrs. Lam, many residents are asking when you will die!
Also on Tuesday, Chinese state media released footage of armored troop carriers driving to the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border.
Meanwhile, flights were cancelled for a second consecutive day due to the airport protests. Massive crowds of demonstrators filled every bridge, terminal and passage, severely disrupting one of the busiest transport hubs in the world.
Media reports from Thailand stated that the country had military planes on standby to evacuate Thai nationals from Hong Kong if necessary.
A scuffle erupted as suspicions arose about two men mingling among the protesters. One was suspected of being an undercover mainland police officer. Protesters believed that the other was a mainland reporter for the state run newspaper, Global Times.
The men were tormented, cable tied, beaten and later escorted away from the scene by paramedics.
Xu Luting, spokeswoman for the mainland’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, later “strongly condemned” the assaults, labelling them as “nearly acts of terrorism”.
As the intense clashes between protesters and police grew, pepper spray was again used, with several demonstrators injured or arrested.
The United Nations expressed grave concern over the increasing violence in Hong Kong. UN officials pleaded for open dialogue and an independent investigation into the extradition bill that originally sparked the protests.
By Wednesday evening, Sham Shui Po saw tear gas for a third time in nine days, with many protesters marching against the police brutality that led to one of their own losing her eye. At least five arrests were made.
Similar rallies took place in Tin Shui Wai and Tai Po.
15th August 2019 – Thursday
During a Thursday Hong Kong police press briefing, it was announced that 748 people had been arrested in connection with the summer’s protests, with 115 of them formally charged.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump expressed his confidence that Hong Kong’s problems will be solved if President Xi were to just “meet directly and personally with the protesters.”
Expressions of support for the Hong Kong police also rose from various quarters of mainland China. Several high profile Chinese, including Mulan lead actress Liu Yifei, made statements backing Hong Kong law enforcement efforts.
Liu’s post on the Chinese platform Weibo gained widespread support. However, on Twitter, which is banned in mainland China, the hashtag “boycottmulan” started gaining traction.
16th August 2019 – Friday
Jackie Chan, a world-famous Hong Kong actor who has starred in over 100 movies, has also been receiving heavy backlash after his comments on the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. Many have labelled him a “traitor”.
Saturday rallies in Hung Hom To Kwa Wan, as well as a protest organized by the Civil Human Rights Front in central Hong Kong, were banned. Only a scheduled static rally in Victoria Park on Sunday against police violence will be allowed to proceed.
It is estimated that a quarter of Hong Kong’s population, 1.7. million people, attended.
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