27 January 2020
Airport security personnel help a man (center) to leave the departure area of the Hong Kong International AIrport on Tuesday after protesters surrounded him on suspicion that he was a mainland public security officer.  Photo: Bloomberg
Airport security personnel help a man (center) to leave the departure area of the Hong Kong International AIrport on Tuesday after protesters surrounded him on suspicion that he was a mainland public security officer. Photo: Bloomberg

Beijing blasts protesters’ attacks on mainlanders at airport

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) of the State Council condemned attacks by anti-government protesters against two mainland men at the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday, calling them horrifying and “near-terrorist acts”.

HKMAO spokesperson Xu Luying said in a statement on Wednesday that they “completely breached the bottom line of law, morality and humanity”, the state-owned China Daily reported.

“Their flagrant acts of serious violent crimes in public were shocking and chilling,” the newspaper quoted Xu as saying. “Their violence was an extreme contempt for the rule of law, which has seriously damaged Hong Kong’s international image and hurt the feelings of compatriots on the mainland.

“We firmly support the Hong Kong police force and the judiciary in carrying out resolute and strict justice and bringing criminals to justice as soon as possible,” she added.

Xu extended sympathies to the mainlanders and Hong Kong police officers who were injured during the chaos at the airport on Tuesday.

Thousands of protesters occupied the arrival and departure halls at the Chek Lap Kok terminal on Monday and Tuesday, disrupting airport operations and hundreds of flights.

They were condemning what they called excessive force used by the police against protesters in clashes over the weekend while pushing their demands, including the establishment of an independent commission to investigate violent incidents related to the now-suspended extradition bill.

On Tuesday, protesters attacked two mainland men they thought were mainland agents. One of them was later confirmed to be a reporter of Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily.

Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong issued a separate statement on Wednesday expressing extreme indignation of the attacks on the two mainland citizens and their confinement by protesters at the airport.

“The atrocity has totally gone beyond the bottom line of a civilized society, which is no different from terrorists’ acts, the statement said.

The liaison office said “the protesters have torn down their deceptive masks of ‘peace, rationality and nonviolence’”.

It also said the protesters have damaged Hong Kong’s global reputation and hurt other people’s rights by paralyzing the airport and harassing passengers of different nationalities, China Daily reported.

The office pledged that it will continue to stand behind relevant authorities to safeguard the personal safety and legitimate rights of mainland residents in the city.

That “extremely violent people” surrounded, frisked, illegally detained and savagely beat up a mainland reporter was a challenge and insult to the global journalism industry and a serious trampling on press freedom, the office added.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) Terence Mak Chin-ho said in a regular press conference on Wednesday that the police force is keeping a close eye on the situation, adding that at the moment mainland allegations about “terrorism” and what happened in Hong Kong are not the same.

Mak said the current situation is that only a few extremely violent protesters are trying to make waves, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the Police Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said although some of the protesters’ extreme and violent acts satisfied what is defined as terrorism by the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance, they are not seen as trying to force the government in order to make a statement about politics, religion or ideology, and this indicates that terrorism is not yet involved.

Asked by a Xinhua reporter whether the police force is still capable of maintaining public order as doubts have been raised since the onset of the anti-extradition bill movement, Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung of the Police Public Relations Branch did not give a direct response but only referred to the incidents at the airport on Tuesday night.

Tse said the police were deployed at the airport only to try to save the victims and they succeeded in taking them for medical treatment.

Li said police are keeping close contact with the Airport Authority and the airport security.

During Wednesday’s press conference, a mainland reporter asked the police to answer questions in Putonghua but his request was denied.

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Another mainland man is carried on a stretcher by paramedics after he was attacked by protesters at the airport on Tuesday. He was later confirmed to be a reporter of mainland newspaper Global Times. Photo: Reuters