You’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of the civil unrest in Hong Kong right now. What began as a protest against a bill to allow extradition to mainland China later grew into a general uprising against government leaders. Some see them as too deferential to China’s communist party and a sign that the promise of “one China, two systems” is under threat, limiting the rights and freedoms Hong Kongers were used to as a former British colony.
Anti-government protesters have been engaging in more and more acts of civil disobedience. Besides storming LegCo, they’ve also been delaying mass transit and holding sit-ins at the airport. God Save the Points has covered earlier crackdowns. This morning — after four days at the airport — the situation became so untenable that all flights have been cancelled.
Authorities say that there are simply too many disruptions to allowing normal passengers to check in and clear security. Pictures in the linked story by the South China Morning Post support that claim. Crowds are everywhere in an airport that, while generally busy, has always been an example of modern efficiency and elegance during my past trips. Flagship carrier Cathay Pacific is one of my favorites.
What most impresses me is that protesters have managed to organize such a large gathering at the airport, which is in a relatively remote area of Lantau Island, far from the population centers around the Central and Kowloon neighborhoods and a place I typically associate with hiking trails. Once there, I imagine they’re quite committed and it will take some time before normal operations resume.
But it’s clear that the situation has escalated to a point that it may be unwise to travel to Hong Kong in the near future. Chinese authorities have indicated they are reaching the limit of their patience and may step in to quell the protest if Hong Kong’s local leaders are unable to do so on their own.