The already tense situation at Hong Kong international airport became outright chaotic as Chinese riot police clashed with protesters blocking outgoing flights, with reporters and travelers among the injured.
Demonstrators demanding democracy blocked the departures terminal late on Tuesday local time, preventing any passengers from leaving the airport. Incoming flights were not affected.
One of the travelers arriving from the Chinese mainland was accused of being an undercover police officer and attacked by protesters.
Police tried to clear the way for first responders, dressed in orange gear, to reach the injured man. He was taken to an area hospital.
Fu Guohao, a reporter for Global Times, was attacked and tied up by the protesters, according to his editor.
At one point, officers in riot gear used pepper spray and tear gas on some of the demonstrators, clearing them from one part of the terminal.
One of the officers found himself grappling with a protester and losing his baton. He drew his weapon, but did not fire and there was no bloodshed – for now. Police eventually retreated outside the airport.
Most of the protesters are wearing medical masks, bandannas, even some improvised gas masks. A smaller contingent is equipped with bicycle helmets and hard hats. One came through the airport carrying an American flag.
“These protesters are not going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future,” said RT America reporter Sara Montes de Oca, who is in Hong Kong. At the moment of writing this article, she reported that most protesters were just standing in the airport chanting.
Protests in Hong Kong erupted at the end of March, over the proposed bill to allow extradition of criminal suspects from the autonomous city to the mainland. Although the bill has been suspended, the protesters have moved on to demand “freedom, human rights and democracy.”
Occupied by Britain during the Opium Wars in 1842, Hong Kong was ceded back to China in 1997. It is currently administered under the “one country, two systems” doctrine of autonomy.
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