One of the world’s busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators crowded into Hong Kong’s main terminal Monday, while the central government in Beijing issued an ominous characterization of the protest movement as something approaching “terrorism.”
The extreme action by the largely leaderless movement seemed calculated to prompt a stern response from Beijing, and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s administration responded within hours.
No new violence was reported by Monday evening, although the city remained on edge after more than two months of near-daily and increasingly bloody confrontations between protesters and police.
Beijing tends toward a broad definition of terrorism, including in it nonviolent protests of government policies on the environment or in minority regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet. Such a designation adds to the regime’s descriptions of protesters as clowns, criminals, and traitors intent on overthrowing Chinese rule in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations. Only flights that had already started boarding or those cleared for landing were allowed to use runways at the airport.
“All other flights have been canceled for the rest of today,” the airport statement said. It later said flights would resume at 6 a.m. Tuesday (2200 GMT, 6 p.m. EDT Monday).
Hong Kong airport shuts down amid pro-democracy protest