The airport protests were scheduled to last for three days, during which citizens were going to sit peacefully on the floor of the airport. The idea was to raise international awareness of the potential loss of Hong Kong semi-autonomy.
Today, four days later, the airport is effectively closed; protesters have flooded the building and all flights in and out of Hong Kong have been cancelled.
This follows a day of violence, where police attempted to clear areas of clustered protesters on streets, only to see them move to other locations. Small altercations arose throughout the day, culminating in the attempt to clear a subway station by firing tear gas into the crowds. This, in turn, sparked violence in the streets as clashes broke out between police and protest groups.
The tactics used by the police are drawing attention, as they are believed to be infiltrating the protest groups in plainclothes. A key complaint from the protesters has been that the police have regularly been using excessive violence in their arrest and detention of protesters. The South China Morning Post, on the other hand, reports that the suspected plainclothes operations are being credited by officials as breaking up potential violent activity amidst the fringe group of citizens who are moving beyond peaceful protests.
A representative of the Chinese government, Yang Guang of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, issued a statement regarding the events. Channel News Asia provided an English translation, which was “Hong Kong’s radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging.”
The Irish Examiner provides more from the statement, which has ominous wording toward the Hong Kong protesters. He said they were an “existential threat” to the semi-autonomous island.; other portions of his statement included “One must take resolute action toward this violent criminality, showing no leniency or mercy” and “Hong Kong has reached an inflection point where all those who are concerned about Hong Kong’s future must say ‘no,’ to law breakers and ‘no’ to those engaged in violence.”
This official Chinese response suggests that the military may soon be called in to quell dissent.