Hong Kong on edge: Clashes intensify

By NewsFOXBusiness

Protests in Hong Kong shift outside of the airport

FBN's Susan Li with the latest on the protests in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong police have fired tear gas at a group of pro-democracy protesters rallying outside a police station in a crowded urban neighborhood.

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The protesters had gathered to burn "hell money" and incense as a way to show their opposition to the police during the month-long Hungry Ghost Festival, when offerings are made to ward off spirits of ancestors.

Police armed with riot shields and batons marched down streets in the blue-collar Sham Shui Po neighborhood. Officers carried warning flags and fired tear gas as they advanced, but protesters had already scrambled away.

Two days of disruptions at Hong Kong's airport settled down on Wednesday as flights resumed.

In recent days, outbursts of violence highlighted the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

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About three dozen protesters remained camped in the airport's arrivals area a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations. Additional identification checks were in place, but check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally.

Protesters spread pamphlets and posters across the floor in a section of the terminal but were not impeding travelers. Online, they also circulated letters and promotional materials apologizing to travelers and the general public for inconveniences during the past five days of airport occupations.

Policemen with batons and shields shout at protesters during a demonstration at the Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. Riot police clashed with pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong's airport late Tuesday night, a chaotic end to a second d

"It is not our intention to cause delays to your travels and we do not want to cause inconvenience to you," said an emailed statement from a group of protesters. "We ask for your understanding and forgiveness as young people in Hong Kong continue to fight for freedom and democracy."

The airport's management said it had obtained "an interim injunction to restrain persons from unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering" with airport operations. It said an area of the airport had been set aside for demonstrations, but no protests would be allowed outside the designated area.

The airport had closed check-in for remaining flights late Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers. Those cancelations were in addition to 200 flights canceled on Monday.

Policemen in riot gears arrest a protester during a demonstration at the Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. Chaos has broken out at Hong Kong's airport as riot police moved into the terminal to confront protesters who shut down operations

Hong Kong police said they arrested five people during clashes with pro-democracy protesters at the airport Tuesday night.

More than 700 protesters have been arrested in total since early June, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, but also including women, teenagers and septuagenarians.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific said in a statement it had canceled 272 flights over the past two days, affecting more than 55,000 passengers, while 622 departures and arrivals went ahead.

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The demonstrators are demanding Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down and scrap proposed legislation under which some suspects could be sent to mainland China, where critics say they could face torture and unfair or politically charged trials.

Lam has rejected calls for dialogue, saying Tuesday the protesters were threatening to push their home into an "abyss."

Most of the protesters left the airport Tuesday after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. Riot police clashed briefly with the demonstrators, leading to several injuries and prompting at least one officer to draw a handgun on his assailants.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.