Update (1325ET): While we have seen numerous clips on social media of troop build-ups over the past few days, President Trump has just tweeted confirmation:
Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
Additionally, seeming to address the rumors of US involvement, he tweeted this just before…
Many are blaming me, and the United States, for the problems going on in Hong Kong. I can’t imagine why?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
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Update 6: The Chinese government once again condemned the protesters on Tuesday, accusing them of acts of terrorism, rhetoric they’ve employed against the protesters for days now. Meanwhile, President Trump said he hopes ‘nobody gets killed’ during the protests in Hong Kong.
Police have reportedly left the airport as the protesters have taken yet another man suspected of being an undercover officer from the mainland hostage. Though this man was eventually evacuated and treated by paramedics. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-friendly Global Times, insisted the man was simply reporting on the riots when he was captured.
Fu Guohao, reporter of GT website is being seized by demonstrators at HK airport. I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself. He has no other task except for reporting. I sincerely ask the demonstrators to release him. I also ask for help of West reporters pic.twitter.com/sbFb0L3s92
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) August 13, 2019
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Update 5: That didn’t take long…
Less than an hour after reports of riot police storming the airport first hit the Internet, HK police have reportedly nearly finished clearing the airport. Few injuries have been reported – but many have been arrested. The Guardian reports that the police have arrested more than 20 protesters.
In one stunning scene, a protester wrested a baton from a riot police officer, who then drew their firearm. Amazingly, nobody was killed.
Police officer had his baton taken from him and was attacked with it. Drew his pistol and aimed at protesters. Astonished nobody killed here tonight. pic.twitter.com/Wox8yziDnz
— Mike Bird (@Birdyword) August 13, 2019
As Chinese police mass in Shenzen just over the boarder, some journalists are asking important questions.
Knew this yesterday, it’s getting dangerous for Hong Kong, they can’t fight the police, how in the hell do they think they are going to fight the Chinese military.
— Star Traveler-Dixie is consecrated Ground. (@startraveler785) August 13, 2019
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Update 4: In what appears to be one of the most violent clashes in the history of the 10-week anti-extradition bill protests, Hong Kong police are reportedly storming Hong Kong International Airport clad in riot gear ready to clear all protesters from the premises. Clouds of tear gas and pepper spray are reportedly filling the air as police apply liberal doses to the protesters (and probably a few unfortunate travelers who managed to get caught in the cross fire).
In a live feed, protesters clad in black and wearing face masks can be seen building trolly barricades across entrances to try and keep the police out as Pandemonium reigns at just before midnight local time.
Here’s another feed from outside the airport.
A small number of police without riot gear reportedly entered terminal one and were met with chants of “gangster, gangster!”
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) August 13, 2019
Elsewhere, there have been reports of protesters blocking police vehicles – cars and buses – prompting police to push back with more pepper spray. It’s clear that they’ve been given the order to clear the airport.
Videos of clashes between the police and protesters are proliferating on Twitter.
WATCH: Riot police clash with protesters at Hong Kong airport pic.twitter.com/KfIsBp8Msg
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 13, 2019
Sky News reports that it appears the police are making targeted arrests of protest leaders.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 13, 2019
One protester noted that the police were wearing masks that completely concealed their faces and also hid their badge numbers.
Hong Kong police have shown up at the airport in masks that completely hide their face and without any identification numbers being on show.
So much for being protectors of the city . Thugs more like
— Len (@hyucksnoona) August 13, 2019
Some protesters have been seen waving American flags at the riot police.
Protester at Hong Kong airport seen waving an American flag in front of a barricade and riot police. pic.twitter.com/OGJVuu2hNT
— Conor Swanberg ? (@ConSwan527) August 13, 2019
Earlier, protesters reportedly held a man they believed to be a police officer from the mainland hostage for several hours, BBG reports. Meanwhile, China’s ministry of foreign affairs is already warning the US and UK that they have ‘no right’ to blame HK police for the crackdown on protesters, despite western officials pleas to keep the demonstrations peaceful. CNY has dropped from its highs of the day and was recently trading around 7.03, the level of this morning’s fix.
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Update 3: One of mainland China’s biggest pop stars, Chinese singer Lay Zhang Yixing, has cancelled a concert in Hong Kong that had been scheduled for Saturday over security concerns tied to the protests.
“Nobody would like to see what is happening in Hong Kong now,” Zhang’s studio said in an online statement on Monday night. “Therefore, we have to announce after deliberation that we will cancel the Hong Kong concert on August 17,” according to the SCMP.
Zhang’s concert was originally due to be held near the airport at AsiaWorld-Expo. Zhang rose to fame as a member of K-pop boy group Exo in 2012.
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Update 2: As the situation at Hong Kong International Airport devolves into chaos for a second day, here’s a quick roundup of everything that’s going on courtesy of BBG (much of which we touched on in our story below).
- Crowds of demonstrators congregated again at the airport Tuesday, and the main terminal’s departures gates were forced to close.
- Shares of Cathay Pacific extended their slide after falling to a 10-year low Monday. The carrier fell 2.6% Tuesday in Hong Kong, closing at the lowest since April 2009.
- Lam defended the police response and warned of long-term consequences to city from the unrest.
- The Civil Human Rights Front detailed plans for peaceful march Sunday.
- China said protesters showed signs of “terrorism.”
- Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s state-run Global Times, said that if the situation in Hong Kong doesn’t improve, he thinks China will intervene.
- Check-ins for remaining flights cancelled
- Departure gates closed
- Protests spread to departures hall
- Plans for Sunday March Detailed
- Airport train services cut
- Travelers confront protesters at airport
And another clip from BBG of the chaos:
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 12, 2019
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Update: After struggling to reschedule flights and get back to some semblance of normalcy in its scheduling, Hong Kong International Airport has canceled all departing flights for a second straight day.
The decision is bound to leave thousands of tourists stranded with few options to turn to.
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After false rumors about a police crackdown sent protesters scrambling away from Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, angry crowds returned with a vengeance on Tuesday, flooding the arrival hall and moving into the departures hall as they succeeded in paralyzing one of the busiest travel hubs in the region for the second straight day (though Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive day of protests at the airport).
Hundreds of protesters occupied the area around the airport’s check-in aisles beginning at around 2:30 pm local time before moving to completely cut off departure gates, while at least 1,000 remained in the arrivals section, the SCMP reports, in what appears to be a well orchestrated and systematic plan.
Breaking at #HongKongAirport – #antiEALB protesters stage sit-in in front of departure gates which are now blocked. No passengers can get through. More flights expected to be called off later on. #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/0x3tl9uxGa
— Phoebe Kong 江穎怡 (@phoebe_kongwy) August 13, 2019
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) August 13, 2019
The protests followed another weekend of violent clashes across the city. Aggrieved protesters communicated their outrage over police’s shooting of an unarmed woman in the eye with a nonlethal beanbag weapon.
Flights resumed early Tuesday morning after Monday’s total shutdown, but another 300 flights had been cancelled, and Hong Kong’s airport authority warned that its express trains to and from the airport would run more slowly at 15-minute intervals. According to the latest local media reports, the Airport has now suspended check-ins for some flights, though at least some flights will continue. Both North and South departure gates at Terminal 1 have been closed, per an airport authority spokeswoman.
Rail operator MTR Corporation warned those checking in for flights at Hong Kong or Kowloon stations to get there two hours early to fight through the heavy foot traffic. As of noon local time, the Airport Authority said there were fewer take offs and landings as it worked to reschedule flights, per SCMP.
To compensate, China’s national carrier, Air China, is adding additional flights between Beijing and Shenzen, the Chinese city across the border from Hong Kong where the Chinese military continues to build up an ominous presence of soldiers and tanks. Three of Air China’s Hong Kong-bound flights were diverted to Shenzen on Monday.
Anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong have entered their 10th week, and neither side is showing any willingness to back down, with Governor Carrie Lam – whose popularity has sunk to an all-time low according to the latest poll – warning on Tuesday that the protesters’ violence tactics were pushing Hong Kong into dangerous territory, and accused them of trying to “destroy the rule of law.”
“Violence, no matter if it’s using violence or condoning violence, will push Hong Kong down a path of no return, will plunge Hong Kong society into a very worrying and dangerous situation,”she said, while Beijing once again condemned protesters as ‘terrorists’. She added that police have been following guidelines about using minimum force when dealing with demonstrators.
During a press conference with local reporters on Tuesday, Lam at one point appeared to be on the verge of tears, and delivered a heart-felt appeal for calm, SCMP reports.
“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.
Donning black outfits and face masks (the unofficial uniform of the protests), demonstrated “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom” as exasperated passengers scrambling to try and catch rescheduled and delayed flights. As many found their passage blocked, angry confrontations between travelers and protesters erupted. One woman was seen trying to break through a crowd of protesters at the northern departure gate of Terminal 1, shouting in near tears “I just want to go home!”
Foreign tour groups were perhaps the most inconvenienced: One Brazilian passenger said she had to pay a lot of money for a hotel room after her Shanghai flight was cancelled. “I know it is not the airline’s fault, but I just really want to go home.”
— Emily Tsang (@ETemily) August 13, 2019
One protester, Anson Ng, insisted that demonstrators not “panic flee” like they did on Monday following “people spreading fake news” about a police initiative to clear the area.
Debbie Chiu, a 48-year-old housewife, returned to the airport at noon on Tuesday after joining the sit-in the day before.
She considered Monday’s protest a failure, saying police “tricked us.”
“The internet network was paralysed, and photos of riot police standing by in the restricted area were circulated among the protesters…We were scared and left.”
As the number of takeoffs and landings dwindled, the airport authority activated its emergency center to help deal with the crowds and help carriers clear their backlogs of flights.
Many in the HK business community worried that the protests would damage the city’s reputation. In a statement, Cathay Pacific Airways said the demonstrations had damaged Hong Kong’s status as an international aviation hub.
Still, the protesters show no signs of slowing down, even as the PLA masses forces in Shenzen, creating the looming impression of a possible invasion.
Nearly two months after Lam shelved the hated extradition bill that sparked the protest movement, the protesters still have yet to see their demands met, according to the Guardian: The ‘full withdrawal’ of the extradition bill, an independent investigation into the police’s use of force at the demonstrations, and the introduction ‘genuine universal suffrage’.