Hong Kong International Airport cancelled all remaining flights after an anti-government protest continued in its main terminal for a fourth day yesterday. The protesters have overwhelmed the terminal demonstrating on three separate and yet connected issues stemming from the proposed changes to the state’s extradition law which would revoke freedoms bestowed to Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle. The government argued the amendments would “plug the loopholes” and prevent the city of Hong Kong becoming a safe haven for criminals - but hundreds of thousands of people opposed these changes and came out in force to share their message. So, what exactly is happening in Hong Kong now and why are people protesting?
In June, Hong Kong saw its biggest demonstration since the sit-in protests over proposed electoral reforms brought the city to a standstill five years ago.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong to share their concerns about China’s proposed extradition bill.
The new extradition bill proposed to send suspects to mainland China to face trial.
Critics to the bill said it would subject their citizens to China’s deeply flawed justice system, and would further lead to the erosion of the city’s judicial independence.
Hong Kong protests today:
Campaigners further alleged detainees in China routinely face torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems in accessing lawyers.
In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China, under the assumption that there would be a “one country, two systems” operation in place - meaning there would be one country, China, but two distinct Chinese regions: China and Hong Kong.
This distinction enabled Hong Kong to retain its own economic and administrative systems, while the rest of the People’s Republic of China used the socialist system.
In response to the proposed changes, people amassed by the thousands to oppose the changes.
In reaction to the widespread protests over several weeks, riot police unleashed tear gas and fired rubber bullets into the crowds of gas mask wearing protesters in a bid to deter them.
Now, pro-democracy protesters have overrun the main terminal at Hong Kong International Airport challenging police brutality, the extradition law and calling for more democracy.
The territory's chief executive, Carrie Lam, has said plans for the extradition law are "dead" - but protesters have continued their action calling for it to be formally withdrawn.
Protesters claimed police have used undue force in their dealings with them and many alleged that an attack on innocent bystanders and protesters in July by the Chinese mafia was a result of a “mutually beneficial relationship” between Chinese gangs and the police.
The unprovoked violence by the “triad” hospitalised 45 people and shocked the region after horrific video footage of the brutal assaults quickly spread.
The fourth day saw a sharp rise in attendance by protesters after a woman was hit in the eye by a tear gas round at the weekend and may potentially lose her vision as a result.
Police are currently attempting to remove protesters from the airport and there are long queues for any form of transport away from the airport.
Many protesters are fleeing in advance of an expected police clearance operation, which some fear could turn violent.
Hong Kong’s transportation chief Frank Chan said authorities were asking people to leave promptly due to safety concerns.
He said: "For the safety of airlines, tourists and staff, we call for people at the airport to quickly leave the airport for our staff to continue the operation.
"We can only return to operation after considering tourists' and staff's safety.
He added the closure of the airport may impact the region’s economy, with analytics firm ForwardKeys already indicating a drop of 5.4 percent in flight books between June 16 and July 13.