Hong Kong Protests Heat Up Ahead of China’s National Day

Students gather during a school children's strike event in support of protest movement in Hong Kong on Monday. // Photo by AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe via Newscred

Sunday marked another day of clashes between protestors and police in Hong Kong, as authorities in China prepare for the celebration of China’s National Day

NPR reports that another series of demonstrations Sunday, which were part of a series of anti-authoritarianism rallies staged in more than 60 cities worldwide, left a number of street fires and resulted in more than a dozen people injured and more than 100 people arrested. The protests come days before China’s National Day on Tuesday, October 1, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. That day Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and a delegation of officials from Hong Kong will head to Beijing to take part in the celebration, while the protestors plan to use the occasion to call for upholding the “one-country-two-systems” framework that provides the territory with a measure of political autonomy. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, officials have denied a permit for a rally to be held by the Civil Human Rights Front on October 1, citing the possibility of violence; lawmakers supporting the protest movement argued that the police were to blame for the violence, saying that they had admitted to masquerading as protestors. The government has also tightened security near Hong Kong’s convention center, which will host a National Day celebration on Tuesday. 

On Monday Hong Kong’s airport, which had been shut down earlier this summer by protestors, remained open. A few flight disruptions there are due to Typhoon Mitag, which is approaching Taipei and Shanghai. Hong Kong Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines have all issued travel waivers due to that storm. 

The weekend confrontation is the latest in a series of protests that originally began over a since-withdrawn extradition bill and have since turned into a larger call for more democracy in Hong Kong, as well as criticism of tactics the police have used to combat the protestors. Preliminary research has indicated that the protests have caused a decline in demand for travel to the destination. Shortly after the protests caused a number of flight disruptions to and from Hong Kong’s airport, ForwardKeys released a report showing that short-term bookings were down by 20.2 percent for the eight-week period from June 16 to August 9 – a period that included a general strike on June 16, the siege of police headquarters, the storming of the Legislative Council building on July 1 and a city-wide strike that caused a number of flight cancellations and light rail disruptions. The report examined short-term impact only, and it was released before protests in the Hong Kong airport’s terminal buildings shut down the facility entirely. 

The airport reopened when its operating authority obtained an interim injunction to restrain the protestors from occupying the airport’s facilities. The authority also implemented new access control measures in terminal buildings, only allowing passengers with a valid air ticket or boarding pass for a flight in the next 24 hours and a valid travel document to enter. 

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