In Shenzhen, a convoy of armed policemen have gathered in the Chinese city near Hong Kong, fueling speculations that “something extraordinarily bad is about to happen,” said Alexandre Krauss, a senior political advisor at Renrew Europe.
Krauss shared video clips on the convoy on his Twitter account.
The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on Monday said attacks on policemen in the special administrative region were clear “signs of terrorism.”
In Manila, Malacañang advised Filipinos to avoid going to Hong Kong in the wake of massive protests against the controversial extradition bill.
“For now, avoid going there. That’s the advice because you’re not sure you’re going to reach Hong Kong in the first place,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“This is not the right time to go there because your flight might be canceled,” he added.
Hong Kong airport authorities on Tuesday suspended all check-ins but reversed a previous statement saying that all departing flights had been cancelled as pro-democracy protesters blocked the facility.
“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended,” a statement on the airport website said. “All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible.”
The new rally on Tuesday came as Beijing sent further ominous signals that the 10 weeks of unrest must end, with state-run media showing videos of security forces gathering across the border.
The crisis, which has seen millions of people take to Hong Kong’s streets, has become the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam, gave an at-times emotional press conference on Tuesday morning in which she warned of dangerous consequences if escalating violence was not curbed.
“Violence, no matter if it’s using violence or condoning violence, will push Hong Kong down a path of no return,” Lam said. “The situation in Hong Kong in the past week has made me very worried that we have reached this dangerous situation.”
But a few hours after her press conference, thousands of protesters returned to Hong Kong airport with many sitting down in front of security gates at the departure hall.
“I want to shut down the airport just like yesterday so most of the departure flights will be cancelled,” a 21-year-old student who gave his surname as Kwok told AFP at the rally.
The protesters set up a long barricade made of luggage trolleys at one of the main security gates, then stood up to block passengers who sought to get through.
The protesters chanted: “Stand with Hong Kong, stand for freedom,” and daubed graffiti that included the term “an eye for an eye.” This was in reference to a serious facial injury that reportedly caused a woman to lose the vision in one eye at a demonstration that turned violent on Sunday night. The demonstrators accused police of causing the injury by firing a bean-bag round.
While the disruptions caused headaches for travelers, many said they sympathized with the protesters.
“The protesters are the loveliest people in the world,” said Pete Knox, a 65-year-old Brit on his way to Vietnam. “I understand the basics of the protest and they’ve got a point: It’s about freedom and democracy and it’s incredibly important.”
On Tuesday, Chinese state media upped the ante, calling protesters “mobsters,” warning they must never be appeased and raising the specter of mainland security forces intervening to quash them.
The official state news agency Xinhua warned in a commentary Tuesday that “violent radicals” were pushing Hong Kong into an “abyss.”
In a video posted on its Weibo channel, a CCTV anchor warned viewers: “When dealing with terrorism, there is no soft hand.”
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