Hong Kong airport operating normally despite planned "stress test" protest


Posted at Aug 24 2019 11:41 AM

Hong Kong airport operating normally despite planned "stress test" protest 1
Photo from Hong Kong International Airport Instagram

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's airport and the roads and railways leading to it were operating normally early on Saturday despite plans by protesters to implement a "stress test" of transport links to the aviation hub early in the day.

Those seeking to enter the terminal had to show valid boarding passes and passports, Reuters witnesses said. Train stations feeding the airport, as well as roads to it, were largely clear, with a light police presence along some access routes.

Authorities had taken out a court order to prevent demonstrations at the airport, which was forced to close for part of last week after protesters thronged the main terminal for several days, grounding around 1,000 flights and occasionally clashing with police.

Other protests are planned on Saturday in various districts, including Kwun Tong on the Kowloon peninsula.

The city's train operator, the MTR Corporation, said in a statement on Friday that it had been granted an injunction to prevent protesters from disrupting train services. The operator also said that if "fights, vandalism or other acts of violence occur," train services at affected stations could be stopped immediately.

The protests, which began as opposition to a now suspended bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China, have swelled into wider calls for democracy, plunging the city into an unprecedented crisis and posing a direct challenge to China's leaders.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement that enshrined a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong since it was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Almost 3 months after the demonstrations began, there is no sign of let-up across the China-ruled territory.

On Friday night, thousands of chanting protesters formed human chains around the city in a peaceful protest dubbed the "Hong Kong Way."

Organizers said 135,000 people took part in the demonstration, inspired by one in 1989, when an estimated 2 million people joined arms across three Baltic states in a protest against then Soviet rule that became known as the "Baltic Way" or "Baltic Chain."

Friday's protest, which included people linking arms and shining lights on sidewalks and atop Kowloon's Lion Rock mountain, followed warnings from Communist Party leaders in Beijing and city leader Carrie Lam to stop the demonstrations and restore order.

Authorities have so far refused to meet any of the protesters' 5 key demands, including calls for an independent inquiry into police brutality, a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, and full democracy.

Organizers are planning a host of protests in the coming weeks including a mass march, a city-wide strike and class boycotts at the city's universities.