HK leader says city on brink as protesters unleash travel chaos

Tuesday, 06 Aug, 2019

The demonstrations were a strong rebuttal of leader Carrie Lam, who on Monday characterised the protests as largely the work of violent fringe groups who were about to "push Hong Kong to the verge of a very risky situation".

The protests in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city were triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law but quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.

Speaking in a news conference on Monday morning, Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam said recent protests disrupting the former British colony are endangering the "one country two systems" and destroying Hong Kong's prosperity.

Peak-hour morning train travel and global flights in Hong Kong were thrown into chaos as pro-democracy protesters launched an attempted city-wide strike to ramp up pressure on the financial hub's embattled leaders.

Some key roads were also blocked, causing gridlock. Several professionals took the day to join the strike.

The protestors hurled umbrellas and other items at the police in the residential district of Wong Tai Sin.

"We warn those maniacs and thugs who intend to continue to mess up Hong Kong by holding to a fantasy that you must pay a price for your savage revenge", the editorial said.

Hong Kong was on Monday gripped by commuter chaos with a total of eight Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines either suspended or partially suspended following action by protesters preventing train doors from closing.

Lee said what made him most angry was that the government was not responding to any of the protesters' demands or examining the police violence.

Some social media users called the incident "Hong Kong's Charlottesville moment". Organizers also called for a general strike at Disneyland, on Hong Kong's Lantau Island, where the airport is also located.

Police said the protesters were "participating in an unathorised assembly", similar to Saturday when they fired multiple tear gas rounds in confrontations with black-clad activists in the Kowloon area.

"They say want a revolution and to liberate Hong Kong. The government, police and protest people have to stop fighting and give us a break".

Large crowds of protesters have gathered in central Hong Kong in a show of strength against the government's divisive plan to allow extraditions to mainland China.

That legislation has since been suspended by the government, but protests have continued as Hong Kong residents call for direct elections of the territory's leader and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Anti-extradition rallies in several locations in Hong Kong on Monday (Aug 5) afternoon have led to the occupation of several roads by demonstrators as well as the firing of tear gas by the police.

An internal memo circulated Monday by Hong Kong's flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, said that the city's air space and runway capacity had been reduced by 50% for all airlines.

Police said they detained "over 20 people" throughout the evening, bringing the total number of arrests to more than 200 since the protest movement exploded on June 9.

There is no need to deploy China's military to Hong Kong to cope with increasingly volatile anti-government protests that threaten to paralyse the Asian financial centre, a Hong Kong official says.