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Flights canceled, major roads blocked as Hong Kong protests escalate

Hong Kong protests cancel over 100 flights

What we covered here

  • A huge day of protests: People went on strike and protested across seven districts of Hong Kong in the most ambitious and wide-ranging day of demonstrations this summer. 
  • Strikes across all sectors: With strikers including teachers, aviation workers, finance employees and civil servants, major sectors of the Asian financial hub screeched to a halt.
  • Tear gas fired: Riot police fired tear gas at five different locations, as clashes with protesters intensified.
  • Summer of discontent: This was Hong Kong’s ninth consecutive week of protests. They started in early June over a now-suspended extradition bill, but demands have evolved to include greater democracy and police accountability.
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Our live coverage of Monday’s strikes and protests have ended, but you can read more about the ongoing crisis here.

City-wide strikes bring Hong Kong to a standstill

A group of protesters prevent the doors of a commuter train from closing on August 5.

Hong Kong was hit by widespread strikes Monday that brought chaos to much of the city’s transport network, including Hong Kong International Airport, in the most ambitious day of demonstrations since the movement began in June.

Here’s what happened on Monday:

  • Transport disruption: The day began with demonstrators disrupting major transit routes. Major subway lines were suspended or delayed as protesters blocked trains from leaving stations. Protesters also blocked roads and highways, including the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, a vital artery connecting Hong Kong island with Kowloon.
  • Chaos at the airport: More than 2,300 aviation workers joined the strike, leading to the cancellation of 224 flights. Unusually long queues were seen in the airport check-in hall throughout the day. Air space and runway capacity were reduced by 50% for all airlines, according to an airline’s internal memo.
  • Direct action: Protests also took place in seven districts: Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tseun Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po. Organizers also called for a general strike at Disneyland and the airport.
  • Sectors on strike: Strikers included teachers, lifeguards at beaches, security workers, construction workers – and almost 14,000 people from the engineering sector.
  • Police fire tear gas: As the afternoon wore on, clashes between protesters and police broke out across the city and police fired tear gas in five districts. 24 people were injured.
  • Official response: Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam gave her first press conference in two weeks, calling for an end to the violence. Police spokespeople also condemned protester violence.
  • Biggest strike in decades: Monday’s general strikes are believed to be the first of their kind since 1967, when a Chinese Communist Party-allied union instigated widespread labor protests.

A military crackdown in Hong Kong would backfire on China's economy

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier in Hong Kong on August 1, 2019.

The idea of China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) on the streets of Hong Kong seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Now it is being considered a possibility.

As Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests grow in frequency and intensity, the commander of the city’s PLA garrison said last week that protester violence “should not be tolerated.”

Five days of protests: Since then Hong Kong has witnessed another five consecutive days of mass protests, which have shut down stores, disrupted air travel and led to clashes between police and demonstrators. The Hong Kong stock market had its worst day in months on Monday.

Public fears: Hong Kong’s government is legally allowed to request help from the PLA garrison of more than 6,000 soldiers if public order in the city spirals out of control.

There is no indication yet that troops may be deployed – but the fear of PLA intervention has spread through the city and triggered memories of the brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

What would happen? The stock market would likely crash, followed by the housing market. A mass exodus could follow.

Given Hong Kong’s close ties to mainland China, a decision to deploy the PLA could ricochet through the entire country at a time when the world’s second biggest economy is already vulnerable because of the trade war with the United States.

Read more here.

224 flights canceled after airport protest

Passengers line up at airline counters at Hong Kong international airport on August 5, 2019.

Hong Kong’s Airport Authority reported 224 flights were canceled Monday after a sit in protest at Hong Kong International Airport.

More than 2,300 aviation workers took part in the strike, including 1,200 Cathay cabin crew and pilots, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

24 people hospitalized on Monday

Monday’s clashes resulted in 24 people being sent to hospitals, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority told CNN.

As of 11 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), 16 people have been discharged from hospital, while six are in a stable condition, one is in a serious condition and one is “unknown.”

Protesters set up barricades

Protesters have completely blocked off Nathan road at multiple points – which is the major artery in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district.

Protesters set up barricades off Nathan road.

It comes after police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the area of Prince Edward, outside the Mong Kok police station.

Amnesty International condemns alleged sexual assault of a female Hong Kong protester

Amnesty International condemned the alleged sexual assault of a female Hong Kong protester by the police on Sunday night, according to a statement.

“We condemn the police’s brutality and disproportionate use of force in handling the subdued protester. The female protester’s clothing was pulled up, exposing her private parts,” it said. 

When asked about the incident earlier on Monday, senior superintendent from Police Public Relations Branch, Yolanda Yu, said “the woman was wearing a dress and she struggled strongly, which explained what happened in front of the camera.”

Amnesty International rebutted the police’s explanation, saying that “protesters’ clothing is not an excuse for the police’s sexual violence.”

The protester has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer.

Amnesty International cautioned that her arrest should be conducted by female officers in order to “safeguard the rights and dignity of the woman under arrest.” 

Hong Kong police said they initially had three female officers attempt to arrest the woman but because she struggled so much, they had to get reinforcement from additional male officers. 

Just as police disperse protesters in one place, they pop up in another

Protesters on the streets of Sham Shui Po on Monday night.

Protesters are moving rapidly between districts. One group of demonstrators is now in Sham Shui Po – a heavily populated area at the northern end of Kowloon that is one of the city’s poorest districts.

Compared to the glitz and glamor of Hong Kong Island, Sham Shui Po is populated mostly by working-class people.

Hundreds of protesters have set up barricades on the roads leading to Sham Shui Po police station.

Officers have already fired tear gas in an effort to move the protesters on.

Hong Kong's fifth straight day of mass protests -- in pictures

Monday marked the most widespread – and possibly the biggest – day of protests yet.

After calling for general strikes, protesters started the day by blocking subway doors across the city, throwing the transport system into chaos.

A protester blocks a subway train at Fortress Hill station on August 5.

More than 100 flights were cancelled at Hong Kong airport as ground workers went on strike. There were also disruptions at government offices, beaches – and even Hong Kong Disneyland.

The Mystic Manor ride at Disneyland in Hong Kong was closed on Monday.

Large strike gatherings in seven districts were approved by police. But the demonstrations quickly deteriorated into clashes between protesters and officers.

Demonstrators even reoccupied Harcourt Road, outside the city government offices in one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts. Police in multiple areas responded with tear gas.

Protesters hold their ground after police fired tear gas in Tai Po district on August 5, 2019.

As the night wore on, protesters showed no signs of letting up. They attacked multiple police stations – painting slogans, lighting fires and destroying property.

Armed citizens also appeared to attack demonstrators in the Hong Kong Island district of North Point.

Riot police fire tear gas during a confrontation with protesters on August 5.

Police condemn "violent acts in various locations" across Hong Kong

Protesters run as police fire tear gas at them in Wong Tai Sin during a general strike in Hong Kong on August 5.

At around 8.45 p.m. local time, there are still multiple stand offs between police and protesters across the city.

In a statement just released, the Hong Kong’s police force condemned the protesters for “blocking roads extensively and setting fire to miscellaneous objects.”

“The protesters are surrounding and attacking various police stations and the adjacent (barracks), hurling igniting objects and hard objects, making damages to the premises,” the statement said.

Police have condemned the violence and said they are using “minimum force” to remove the demonstrators.

Violence flares as protests continue in Hong Kong

Police walk in a line as they attempt to disperse protesters in Wong Tai Sin during a general strike in Hong Kong on August 5.

Two protest scenes have seen flashes of violence on both sides of Hong Kong, with no end in sight to today’s demonstrations.

Police and protesters clashed in the suburban district of Wong Tai Sin, in front of the police barracks. Officers raised the black warning flag and fired tear gas at protesters who temporarily dispersed.

On the other side of Victoria Harbor, there were reports of violence between protesters and armed civilians in the residential area of North Point.

Video from the scene showed the civilians beating protesters with long poles, while the demonstrators threw traffic cones and bollards at them.

Is Hong Kong still safe to travel to?

Tourists take selfies from Victoria Peak in front of a view of residential and commercial buildings in Kowloon (background) and Hong Kong Island on May 3.

If you’d booked to visit Hong Kong in the next few weeks, you might be feeling concerned right now.

But despite the mass protests, tear gas and riot police on the streets, Hong Kong is still a relatively safe place to visit, with much of the city running as normal.

For its part, the Hong Kong Tourism Commission has said the city is still open to travelers. And key major attractions such as the Peak Tram, the Ladies’ Market and the Star Ferry, which takes passengers across the Victoria Harbor to Kowloon, have been unaffected.

But there are signs the protests are having an impact on tourism.

Between June 16 and July 13, during which time there were several huge demonstrations, flight bookings to Hong Kong from Asia fell by 5.4% on the same period last year, according to analysis firm ForwardKeys.

Read more in this article.

Strikes force Cathay Pacific to cancel more than 150 flights

Demonstrations in Hong Kong have forced the city’s biggest airline, Cathay Pacific, to cancel more than 150 flights and urge passengers to postpone non-essential travel.

Cathay Pacific urged customers not to fly Monday and Tuesday, and said it would waive fees for rebooking. Shares in Cathay plunged more than 4% during trading Monday.

The airline is the city’s flagship carrier. It flies about 34 million passengers every year and serves nearly 200 cities around the world from its hub at Hong Kong’s international airport.

Hong Kong Airlines, a smaller carrier, said it has canceled 32 flightsUnited Airlines said its flights were unaffected.

More than 2,300 aviation workers took part in the strike, including 1,200 Cathay cabin crew and pilots, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

Service was suspended for more than an hour Monday morning on the Airport Express, which is a line that zips people between the airport and the city center in under 25 minutes.

Hong Kong air space and runway capacity at the airport has been effectively reduced by 50% for all airlines, according to an internal Cathay Pacific memo seen by CNN that was sent to staff that supports pilots and ensures planes operate efficiently and on time.

More than 74 million passengers traveled to and from Hong Kong’s international airport last year. The major Asian hub handles 1,100 passenger and cargo flights daily, with services between Hong Kong and about 200 international destinations.

Why Hong Kong's young protesters feel they're running out of time

Protesters occupy Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong's most crowded districts, on Sunday.

While older Hong Kongers who grew up in the British colony strongly identify with China and saw a point of pride in the city returning to Chinese rule,today, the number of people who express pride in being a Chinese citizen is at a record low, with a significant number of young people identifying as Hong Kongers rather than Chinese, according to the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Program.

For those who identify as Hong Kongers, the idea of being fully absorbed by what they view as a foreign country is terrifying, let alone a country as authoritarian as Xi Jinping’s China.

Many worry about the impending 2047 deadline, when the current “one country, two systems” model that Hong Kong is governed under expires.

Undoubtedly 2047 seemed like a long way off for those overseeing Hong Kong’s handover, and remained impossibly distant for much of the city’s early political development, but for the student protesters flooding the streets this year, it is very much on the horizon – 18-year-olds today will be 46 when the city becomes fully Chinese.

Unlike many millennial Hong Kongers – whose parents moved abroad in the years running up to handover, taking advantage of generous immigration laws within the British Commonwealth to get their children foreign passports – they also have no way out. This is their home and they’re stuck here, like it or not, so they may as well try to fix it.

Read more here

Protesters start large blaze next to Sha Tin police station

Protesters started a large fire outside a police station in Sha Tin, a residential area of northern Hong Kong where authorities and demonstrators have clashed today.

After making a pile of boxes and wooden pallets, protesters sparked a fire at about 7.30 p.m. local time. Firefighters have arrived at the scene and are attempting to put it out.

This weekend’s protests saw demonstrators start multiple fires. In the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday, protesters started a fire inside a car in a police station.

Protesters block one of city's largest roads for the second time in three days

One of the Hong Kong’s biggest roads has been completely blocked by protesters, setting up yet another confrontation with police.

Nathan Road runs down the spine of Kowloon Peninsula and is one of the city’s most important roads. On Saturday night all six lanes were completely occupied by protesters, leading to violent clashes with police.

Protesters take over Nathan Road again on Monday in Hong Kong.

Protesters have now reoccupied the road in the crowded shopping district of Mong Kok, near Argyle Road.

Police are already facing down protesters in Causeway Bay, Tin Shui Wai and Sha Tin, among others.

Although demonstrations have been going on for weeks, this is the first time they’ve spread to so many districts simultaneously.

80 arrests by police so far amid citywide strikes

Riot police stand guard at Wong Tai Sin on August 5 in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong police have arrested 80 people so far today – the highest number in a single day since protests began in early June.

A total of 420 people have been arrested in connection with the 9 week long protest movement, said police spokesperson Yolanda Yu – 317 men and 73 women, aged 16 to 76.

That number could still rise, as confrontations between police and protesters continue this evening across Hong Kong.

Protests spread across Hong Kong in the biggest day of demonstrations yet

Protests and strikes have spread to almost every corner of Hong Kong today.

In the past two months, large, individual demonstrations have paralyzed a single district or led to clashes between police and protesters.

As night falls in Hong Kong, police and protesters are engaged in multiple clashes, with tear gas being fired at five different locations.

Earlier in the day, mass transport strikes and protests massively delayed both trains and planes coming in and out of the city.

Here’s where today’s strike action and demonstrations have taken place so far:

China's Hong Kong affairs office to hold second press briefing

Yang Guang (C) and Xu Luying (R), spokespersons for mainland China's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office attend a press conference in Beijing on July 29.

The Chinese government office which manages Hong Kon affairsg has announced it will hold its second press briefing on the escalating protests Tuesday.

It will be held at 2.30 p.m. local time, after five days of straight protests in Hong Kong

it comes just one week after they held their first briefing on the demonstrations, where they warned the situation in the city was “grave.”

It is highly unusual for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office to hold one press briefing but two back-to-back meetings shows how serious Beijing is taking the situation.

Protesters begin to clear off Harcourt Road

The demonstrators who had taken over Harcourt Road, in the center of Hong Kong’s government district, have begun to move away.

Police had fired dozens of rounds of tear gas at the protesters in an attempt to clear the road, which runs alongside the city’s Legislative Council.

It now appears that protesters are moving east towards Causeway Bay, a major Hong Kong shopping and commercial district.


Police have now fired tear gas in five districts

Protesters and police clash in Tin Shui Wai, Hong Kong, on August 5, 2019.

As demonstrators strike and protest in seven districts across Hong Kong, clashes with police are heating up.

Police have fired tear gas in five districts today:

  • Tin Shui Wai
  • Wong Tai Sin
  • Admiralty/ Central
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Tai Po

Police in Admiralty are firing tear gas from above

Police throw tear gas from a balcony in Admiralty.

Riot police in Admiralty are now firing tear gas from above at protesters below on the street.

They are firing consecutive rounds, from a balcony close to the headquarters of the city government.

On the street, thousands of protesters dressed in black are chanting “Dirty cops” and “Your whole family will die” at the police.

Since protests began on June 9, police have used 160 rubber bullets, 150 sponge bullets, and fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas, according to a police spokesperson.

Police have been firing tear gas, but few protesters are leaving Admiralty.

Property stocks drop

Hong Kong stocks just had their worst day in months.

Cathay Pacific, the city’s flagship airline carrier, dropped 4.2%, while MTR – owner of the city’s subway system and a major real estate developer – dropped 3.4%.  

Local real estate developers and financial services firms all tanked.

The top loser was Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of the city’s largest developers. It sank 5.2%. BOC Hong Kong, a major lender owned by Bank of China, fell 3.4%.

Investors are worried about the city’s deteriorating political crisis, slowing economic growth in the region and escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.

Police respond to allegations of sexual violence against a female protester

Riot police stand guard outside the Tin Shui Wai police station during a protest on August 5, 2019 in Hong Kong.

Earlier this afternoon, riot police in the northern Hong Kong suburb of Tin Shui Wai fired tear gas at a group of protesters, who accused male officers of committing sexual violence against a female protester.

The allegation: Officers had carried away a female protester on Sunday night, even though her underwear had fallen off during the struggle.

In response, protesters on Monday demonstrated outside the Tin Shui Wai police station. Pro-democracy advocate Helena Wong told CNN the actions of police were “very insulting to the female protester and violating the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.”

Police response: A police spokeswoman, Yoland Yu, said Monday that the woman had been arrested for attacking police officers. Yu said three female police officers had been asked to handle the situation, “but she was not cooperative, so two other male officers also joined in.”

Police say the protesters today in Tin Shui Wai threw stones at officers and posed a “serious safety risk” to the public,” and eventually fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Hong Kong protesters return to the heart of the city's government

Police are working to clear a large group of protesters who have occupied Harcourt Road in Admiralty, the major shopping and administrative district which houses Hong Kong’s government.

Harcourt Road has been the heart of Hong Kong’s summer protests. It runs alongside city’s Legislative Council – the primary office of government – and the headquarters for the Chinese military, as well as numerous shopping malls.

Protesters spill onto Harcourt Road as they attend a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on June 16

It was first occupied on June 12 by protesters in a move which police and government officials described as a riot.

Since then it has been taken over multiple times by protesters, including on the night of July 1, when the Legislative Council offices were broken into and trashed.

Now they’re back again.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu (L) and Jeremy Tam (R) stand before a police line on Harcourt Road outside the government headquarters after the annual flag raising ceremony to mark the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1.

It's 5:45 p.m. in Hong Kong. Here's your catch-up

We’re approaching evening in Hong Kong, but the citywide unrest, which began at 7 a.m. local time, continues unabated.

Here’s what has happened since our last catch-up:

  • Tear gas fired three times: Police have now fired tear gas at protesters in three separate districts across Hong Kong: Admiralty, Wong Tai Sin, and Tin Shui Wai. There are now thousands of protesters pushing back against police in Admiralty.
  • Strikes in seven districts: Strikes and protests are continuing in seven districts, plus in two additional locations – the airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.
  • Flights slowly restart: More than 100 flights were canceled earlier today, but the Hong Kong airport is slowly starting to clear the backlog.
  • Police press conference: The police condemned protester violence, and said they had arrested 420 protesters since the protests first began on June 9.