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International News

Hong Kong Protesters Form Human Chains at Airport

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Hong Kong Protesters Form Human Chains at Airport

2019-08-23 12:51:261 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Hong Kong International Airport (Image source: Shizhao via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Three months in, the anti-government demonstrations are still going on in Hong Kong. After a big presence at the airport last week causing skirmishes when riot police showed up, they're back there again, this time chanting and joining hands to form a human chain in a peaceful protest.

 

Once again the demonstrators are taking over the airport. They're still maintaining germ-free lives as they are sometimes wearing masks and using hand wipes, but they're also holding up banners to thank people across the world for supporting "freedom and democracy" in Hong Kong. 

Friday's demonstration is symbolic of a demonstration across three Baltic states on August 23, 1989, when 2 million people joined arms to protest Soviet rule. It was later known as the "Baltic Way" or "Baltic Chain."

 

"I joined the Honk Kong Way because it's peaceful," said Peter Cheung, 27, one of the protesters. "This is the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. I hope there will be a bigger chance to make an international noise." 

Included in the protest were many shining lights from the top of Kowlooon's Lion Rock. These could be seen from the main island of Hong Kong, showing defiance of the people after Communist Party leaders in Beijing and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam sent warnings about violence.

 

There wasn't much police presence this time, and the protest ended around 9 p.m. local time.  

But this is not the end of the protests at the airport, as they are also planning a "stress test" this weekend. Wearing the black clothing once again, some are already making there way to the airport.

 

These protests are the result of a bill that has now been suspended that would have allowed extraditions to China. It sent the formerly British colony of Hong Kong into its worst crisis since being returned to China in 1997. 

The protest grew into demands for greater freedom with worries that the "one country, two systems" formula in play since being returned in 1997 would lead to the deterioration of their rights.

 

While the Hong Kong affairs office condemned last week's airport protests as "Near-terrorist acts," protest organizers on Friday requested, "Go to the airport by different means, including MTR, airport bus, taxi, bike, and private car to increase pressure on airport transport." 

The Airport Authority published a half-page notice in newspapers stating it opposed acts that blocked the airport and that it would keep working to maintain smooth operations while also asking young people to "love Hong Kong."

 

This is causing trouble worldwide, as the Canadian consulate has suspended travel to mainland China for local staff. A Chinese employee of the British consulate, Simon Cheng, had been detained in the border city of Shenzhen. Beijing accused Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its Hong Kong affairs. 

Geng Shuang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said Canada's decision to not allow staff to visit the mainland belonged to them and that it was respected. He also urged that if people go to China and follow the law, there will be no problems.

 

"But if you have a hidden aim and are hatching a sinister plot, then I fear in China you need to be in a state of apprehension and extra careful." 

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China and reports of Chinese border officials detaining journalists traveling between the mainland and Hong Kong and also searching their digital devices.

 

Hong Kong's economy and tourism have been affected, with airport passenger volume so far this month being down 11% from the same period as last year and cargo volume down 14%. Visitor arrivals started falling in mid-July, and for the period of August 15 through August 20, arrivals were down nearly 50% from the same period last. year. 

Demonstrators are looking to have five demands met: withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent inquiry into the protests and what they believe is police brutality, protests to stop being described as "rioting," charges against protesters to be waived, and political reform to resume.

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