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Hong Kong cancels 200 flights amid major countrywide protests

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HONG Kong International Airport has cancelled all departing flights on Monday, as thousands of anti-government protesters occupied and caused disruption in  11th week of protests.

Passengers have been told not to travel to the airport, which is one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.

In a statement, officials of the airport quoted “seriously disrupted” operations as a reason for the shutdown as they were cancelling all flights that were not yet checked in by Monday afternoon.

Hong Kong International report is one of the busiest in the world, handling 1,100 flights daily across about 200 destinations.

More than 160 flights scheduled to leave after 18:00 local time (10:00 GMT) would not depart.

Many have condemned the actions of police, who on Sunday were filmed firing tear gas and non-lethal ammunition at close range.

Some protesters wore bandages over their eyes in response to images of a woman bleeding heavily from her eye on Sunday, having reportedly been shot by a police projectile.

The Hong Kong unrest was sparked due to the introduction of a bill introduced in April that would allow people accused of crimes against mainland China to be extradited.

The bill met with lots of criticism as many believed that those sent to the mainland could face an unfair trial and violent treatment under China’s court system and could put activists and journalists at risk as they argued the bill would give China more control over Hong Kong.

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Protesters at Hong Kong airport. Credit: BBC

Earlier today, a top Chinese official said the protests — now in their eleventh week — had “begun to show signs of terrorism” as protesters’ demands have changed since the beginning of the protests and they are now calling for complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, withdrawal of the “riot” description used about the 12 June protests, amnesty for all arrested protesters, creation of an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and Universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections.

Calls have also been raised for the resignation of Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong who they view as a puppet of Beijing.

The Chinese government and military have been saying for days/weeks that they can be called upon by the Hong Kong government to preserve security and stability in Hong Kong if needed.

As videos have been circulating in Chinese state media of exercises in Hong Kong’s neighbouring city of Shenzhen conducted by the People’s Armed Police (PAP), a paramilitary group under the direct control of the Central Military Commission, headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This latest video is the clearest message yet from Beijing as it hardens its rhetoric with the protests in Hong Kong showing no sign of abating.

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