Hong Kong protesters offer apologies, China doubles down after airport clash Aug 15, 2019 0 184 12345 REUTERSHONG KONGChina said on Wednesday Hong Kong’s protest movement had reached “near terrorism” and more street clashes followed ugly scenes the previous day when protesters set upon men they suspected of being government sympathisers.The United States said it was deeply concerned at news of Chinese police forces gathering near the border, urged Hong Kong’s government to respect freedom of speech, and issued a travel advisory urging caution when visiting the city.By nightfall, police and protesters were again facing off on the streets, with riot officers shooting tear gas almost immediately as their response to demonstrators toughens.Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontation between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.Flights resumed on Wednesday amid heightened security at Hong Kong airport, which is one of the world’s busiest, after two days of disruptions sparked by protesters swarming the airport and, late Tuesday, detaining there two men they suspected opposed them.China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing called the behaviour at the airport no different to terrorism and said it must be severely punished.“We’re deeply sorry about what happened yesterday,” read a banner held up by a group of a few dozen demonstrators in the airport arrivals hall in the morning. “We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions. Please accept our apologies,” the banner said.In chaotic scenes that would once have been unthinkable for Hong Kong, a peaceful sit-in at the airport turned violent late on Tuesday as protesters confronted and held a man they believed was an undercover Chinese agent.Busloads of riot police arrived in response, clashing with furious demonstrators before withdrawing once the man was removed, and leaving the terminal briefly in control of activists who then detained a Chinese reporter for a short time.It was not clear whether the scenes of violence might have eroded the broad support the movement has so far attracted in Hong Kong, a major financial hub. The protests have also hit the city’s faltering economy.“We promise to reflect and to improve,” protesters said in one message distributed on social media app Telegram.“Sorry we were too reckless ... we are only afraid of losing your support to the whole movement due to our mistake, and that you give up on fighting.” They also showed little sign of relenting in their protests, which began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China, but have swelled into wider calls for democracy.Hundreds attended a demonstration in the residential area of Sham Shui Po, where police arrived and quickly used tear gas after protesters pointed lasers at the police station.‘SWORD OF THE LAW’ China used its strongest language yet after Tuesday’s incidents, when the protesters seized a reporter from China’s Global Times newspaper, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, and harassed the man they believed to be a mainland agent.In addition to Beijing’s condemnation, the People’s Daily called for “using the sword of the law” to restore order, and mainland social media users lauded the detained reporter as a hero.The US State Department called for restraint and said the country was deeply concerned at Chinese paramilitary movements near the border.“The ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong reflect the sentiment of Hong Kongers and their broad and legitimate concerns about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” a department spokeswoman said.Under the “one country-two systems” arrangement, Hong Kong was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and human rights after its handover to China.Any erosion of the city’s autonomy could undermine its preferential trade treatment by the United States, the spokeswoman said.Chinese police have assembled in the neighbouring city of Shenzhen for what appeared to be exercises, the Global Times reported this week.On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump had described the volatile situation as “tricky”, and said China’s government had moved troops near the border with Hong Kong.China has also denied a request for two US Navy warships to visit Hong Kong in the coming weeks, US officials said.Beijing and Washington are already mired in a trade dispute.France urged Hong Kong authorities to renew dialogue with protesters to find a peaceful solution.AIRPORT REOPENED At Hong Kong airport, which was designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, blood, debris and signs of the scuffle were scrubbed away during the night, and cleaners and protesters themselves removed anti-government posters from the walls.Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said a total of 272 departures and arrivals had been cancelled because of the disturbances, affecting more than 55,000 passengers.China’s aviation regulator demanded last week that Cathay suspend personnel supporting protests in Hong Kong from staffing flights entering its airspace. On Wednesday, the carrier said it had fired two pilots.Forward Keys, a flight data firm, said the crisis had driven a 4.7 percent fall in long-haul bookings to Hong Kong between June 16 and Aug. 9 compared with the same period last year.“I think the local events clearly are having a profound impact, probably in ways that we haven’t necessarily clearly articulated yet,” Charles Li, chief executive of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange told reporters on Wednesday.Protesters vowed to press on.“All the people here are very scared,” Ann, a 21-year-old teacher, told Reuters at the airport as she carefully took down anti-government posters, folding them for re-use.“But we are more scared that we do not have our freedoms anymore, and so that is why we continue our protests,” she said.“We feel that our ideas are bulletproof.” Pages 123 Subscribe to our Whatsapp Service Qatar +974 Kuwait +965 Oman +968 Bahrain +973 Saudi Arabia +966 United Arab Emirates +971 Afghanistan +93 Albania +355 Algeria +213 AmericanSamoa +1 684 Andorra +376 Angola +244 Anguilla +1 264 Antigua and Barbuda +1268 Argentina +54 Armenia +374 Aruba +297 Australia +61 Austria +43 Azerbaijan +994 Bahamas +1 242 Bahrain +973 Bangladesh +880 Barbados +1 246 Belarus +375 Belgium +32 Belize +501 Benin +229 Bermuda +1 441 Bhutan +975 Bosnia and Herzegovina +387 Botswana +267 Brazil +55 British Indian Ocean Territory +246 Bulgaria +359 Burkina Faso +226 Burundi +257 Cambodia +855 Cameroon +237 Canada +1 Cape Verde +238 Cayman Islands + 345 Central African Republic +236 Chad +235 Chile +56 China +86 Christmas Island +61 Colombia +57 Comoros +269 Congo +242 Cook Islands +682 Costa Rica +506 Croatia +385 Cuba +53 Cyprus +537 Czech Republic +420 Denmark +45 Djibouti +253 Dominica +1 767 Dominican Republic +1 849 Ecuador +593 Egypt +20 El Salvador +503 Equatorial Guinea +240 Eritrea +291 Estonia +372 Ethiopia +251 Faroe Islands +298 Fiji +679 Finland +358 France +33 French Guiana +594 French Polynesia +689 Gabon +241 Gambia +220 Georgia +995 Germany +49 Ghana +233 Gibraltar +350 Greece +30 Greenland +299 Grenada +1 473 Guadeloupe +590 Guam +1 671 Guatemala +502 Guinea +224 Guinea-Bissau +245 Guyana +595 Haiti +509 Honduras +504 Hungary +36 Iceland +354 India +91 Indonesia +62 Iraq +964 Ireland +353 Israel +972 Italy +39 Jamaica +1 876 Japan +81 Jordan +962 Kazakhstan +7 7 Kenya +254 Kiribati +686 Kyrgyzstan +996 Latvia +371 Lebanon +961 Lesotho +266 Liberia +231 Liechtenstein +423 Lithuania +370 Luxembourg +352 Madagascar +261 Malawi +265 Malaysia +60 Maldives +960 Mali +223 Malta +356 Marshall Islands +692 Martinique +596 Mauritania +222 Mauritius +230 Mayotte +262 Mexico +52 Monaco +377 Mongolia +976 Montenegro +382 Montserrat +1664 Morocco +212 Myanmar +95 Namibia +264 Nauru +674 Nepal +977 Netherlands +31 Netherlands Antilles +599 New Caledonia +687 New Zealand +64 Nicaragua +505 Niger +227 Nigeria +234 Niue +683 Norfolk Island +672 Northern Mariana Islands +1 670 Norway +47 Pakistan +92 Palau +680 Panama +507 Papua New Guinea +675 Paraguay +595 Peru +51 Philippines +63 Poland +48 Portugal +351 Puerto Rico +1 939 Romania +40 Rwanda +250 Samoa +685 San Marino +378 Senegal +221 Serbia +381 Seychelles +248 Sierra Leone +232 Singapore +65 Slovakia +421 Slovenia +386 Solomon Islands +677 South Africa +27 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands +500 Spain +34 Sri Lanka +94 Sudan +249 Suriname +597 Swaziland +268 Sweden +46 Switzerland +41 Tajikistan +992 Thailand +66 Togo +228 Tokelau +690 Tonga +676 Trinidad and Tobago +1 868 Tunisia +216 Turkey +90 Turkmenistan +993 Turks and Caicos Islands +1 649 Tuvalu +688 Uganda +256 Ukraine +380 United Kingdom +44 United States +1 Uruguay +598 Uzbekistan +998 Vanuatu +678 Wallis and Futuna +681 Yemen +967 Zambia +260 Zimbabwe +263 "Bolivia Brunei Darussalam +673 Cocos (Keeling) Islands +61 "Congo Cote dIvoire +225 Falkland Islands (Malvinas) +500 Guernsey +44 Holy See (Vatican City State) +379 Hong Kong +852 "Iran Isle of Man +44 Jersey +44 Korea Korea Lao Peoples Democratic Republic +856 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya +218 Macao +853 "Macedonia "Micronesia "Moldova Mozambique +258 Palestine +970 Pitcairn +872 RÃ©union +262 Russia +7 Saint BarthÃ©lemy +590 "Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis +1 869 Saint Lucia +1 758 Saint Martin +590 Saint Pierre and Miquelon +508 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines +1 784 Sao Tome and Principe +239 Somalia +252 Svalbard and Jan Mayen +47 Syrian Arab Republic +963 "Taiwan "Tanzania Timor-Leste +670 "Venezuela Viet Nam +84 "Virgin Islands "Virgin Islands POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES Pakistan accuses India of planning military action in disputed Kashmir Aug 15, 2019 0 751 ‘Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Kashmir’: Govt, oppn share I-Day messages Aug 15, 2019 0 241 Deploying new US missiles would be ‘reckless act’: N Korean media Aug 15, 2019 0 176 Thailand orders arrests of four more suspects in Bangkok blasts REUTERS BANGKOK Thai authorities issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for four more suspects believed to be responsible for a series of bomb attacks as the capital hosted a key diplomatic meeting this month. Six small ..