Clashes erupt at Hong Kong Int’l Airport as turmoil deepens

Trump cites intelligence that China moving troops to border

August 14, 2019 04:07
2 minute read.
Police officers fire a tear gas during a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill in Hong K

Police officers fire a tear gas during a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong, China June 12, 2019.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA)

 Police and protesters clashed at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday evening after flights were disrupted for a second day and the political crisis in the former British colony deepened.

In a second day of unrest at the airport, thousands of black-clad protesters jammed the terminal, chanting, singing and waving banners.

Scuffles broke out after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics after he was held by a group of protesters. Some activists claimed he was an undercover mainland Chinese police officer.

US President Donald Trump reacted on Twitter to the chaotic situation in Hong Kong, saying that according to the American intelligence community, “the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong.”

“Everyone should be calm and safe,” he added.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was reporting fresh troop movements or movements near the border already reported in the media.

The president also spoke with reporters before leaving Washington for an event in Morristown, New Jersey, saying that, “the Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation… But I’m sure it’ll work out.

I hope it works out for everybody – including China, by the way.”
Asked if he is aware of Chinese troops gathering close to protesters, the president responded by saying: “It’s a very tricky situation. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurts; I hope nobody gets killed.”

Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters, and riot police moved in, pushing some of them back and using pepper spray. A policeman pulled out a gun at one point.

Protesters also barricaded some passageways in the airport with luggage trolleys, metal barriers and other objects. At least two were taken away by police.

Although the situation looked like it could erupt into serious violence, it calmed down after a few hours without the need for a more forceful police intervention.

The disturbances at the airport followed an unprecedented shutdown on Monday. Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said operations had been “seriously disrupted” on Tuesday and departing passengers had been unable to reach immigration counters.

The weeks of protests began as opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China, and have swelled into wider calls for democracy.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997.

The US State Department, meanwhile, said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi “had an extended exchange of views on US-China relations” on Tuesday. It did not elaborate.

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