Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Emotional Hong Kong Leader Urges Calm Amid Protests, Airport Reopens

Emotional Hong Kong Leader Urges Calm Amid Protests, Airport Reopens

Analysts said the disruptions and protests in Hong Kong were unsettling Asian stock markets, and the Hang Seng index opened 1.1% lower on Tuesday.

"They fight for Hong Kong and that's their view", he said. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, its top agency overseeing the former British colony's affairs, has held unprecedented briefings condemning violent protesters and called on the people of Hong Kong to oppose them.

"Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss", Lam said, although she again refused to make any concessions to the protesters.

The increasingly violent protests have plunged Chinese-ruled Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades and presented a serious challenge to Beijing.

On Monday, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was very anxious about events in Hong Kong, which has a large Canadian population, and urged Chinese authorities to handle the protests there with tact.

Protesters have called for her resignation in light of her introduction of the extradition bill.

Ms Lam warned that Hong Kong had "reached [a] unsafe situation" and that violence during protests would push it "down a path of no return".

China stepped up its rhetoric on Monday, saying protesters have committed serious crimes and showed signs of "terrorism".

Some Hong Kong legal experts say the official description of terrorism could lead to the use of anti-terror laws.

Software engineer Joydeep Chakravarti, whose connecting flight to San Francisco was canceled late Monday, expressed frustration that he was told to leave the airport when he wanted to stay inside the terminal.

The protests began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, but quickly evolved into a broader bid to reverse a slide of rights and freedoms in the southern Chinese city.

Its administrator blamed demonstrators for halting flights on Monday but the exact trigger for the closure was not clear because protesters occupying the arrivals hall for the past five days have been peaceful.

A crowd of protesters that authorities said numbered more than 5,000 descended on the airport yesterday carrying placards and chanting slogans about police violence. Seventy belong to the Hong Kong legislature and the rest represent different sectors like business and agriculture.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong said it has launched an emergency management center in the airport and is keeping close contact with airliners to try to resume operation as soon as possible.

"Hong Kong has just seen its darkest weekend in contemporary history", a masked protester said in a video. A Reuters reporter saw more than 100 travellers queuing up at Cathay's ticketing counter early on Tuesday.

Kate Flannery, an Australian traveler heading for Paris, said the handling of the protests appeared chaotic on Monday night. "The airport authority didn't deal with the situation. I hope the government will hear us".

A Cathay customer officer at the airport, who declined to provide his name, said almost all the airline's flights were full.

Hong Kong airport has suspended check-in for all remaining flights due to ongoing protests inside the terminals.

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