China likens Hong Kong protests to terrorism, United States warns against crackdown

Hong Kong shuts down airport as Beijing says protesters show 'signs of terrorism'

The central government in Beijing and authorities in Hong Kong have characterized the demonstrations as illegal, unauthorized assemblies because many were not granted police approval.

In the latest escalation of demonstrations, anti-Beijing protesters stormed the Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, with thousands of demonstrators filling up the terminal, clogging travelers up so much that the airport cancelled all flights in and out of the city until the protesters vacated the facility.

The increasingly violent protests have plunged Chinese-ruled Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades and presented a serious challenge to Beijing.

Hong Kong's global airport was the world's busiest air cargo hub previous year and the eighth busiest airport for passenger traffic, according to Airports Council worldwide.

Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely unsafe tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging.

Qantas cancelled three flights due to leave Hong Kong on Monday night and grounded a further three departing Australian cities on Tuesday morning - QF97 from Brisbane, QF29 from Melbourne and QF127 from Sydney. "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". The airport has been filled with anti-government protesters for four days. We can not believe them anymore.

"The situation in Hong Kong has now become risky in terms of potential consequences, but also threatens the reputation of the city as a safe and stable business hub served by a world class airport", said Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Britain's Warwick University.

The activists at the airport have been polite and passengers mostly unperturbed. "I was expecting something, given all the news", one arrival, Gurinda Singh, told Reuters.

Hong Kong Airport cancels all flights as protesters crowd into main terminal
A large crowd sat under umbrellas, which are both a protest symbol in Hong Kong and protection from the summer heat. In the meantime, personal information of some police officers flying with the airline had been maliciously leaked.

Scores of protesters were arrested on Sunday, with many taken away, beaten with batons and bloodied. At several districts, including Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai, police fired tear to disperse the crowds.

Another protester, who identified herself only as Bea, said she took the day off from work to express her outrage because "I feel that I have to do something".

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific warned the disruption could cause delays or cancellations of flights.

Images of the woman, who was bleeding heavily from her eye, were shared widely on social media over the weekend.

Showcasing the slick design that has characterized the protests, other pamphlets and posters also advertised planned demonstrations as "new tourist spots", handed out airline tickets "to freedom" and advised tourists what to do if they were caught in the protests during their visit.

He said it will be up to the commander at the scene to decide on the appropriate use of force.

China has used the threat of terrorism to justify tough measures in its regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, which have been criticized by rights groups and Western governments.

"Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong and Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

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