Hong Kong International Airport was opened for flights Wednesday morning local time after two days of closures marked by violent clashes between pro-democracy protesters and authorities doing the bidding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Tuesday saw explosions of violence in the airport, with protestors and police clashing, hundreds of flights canceled, and tensions increased between the two sides. Some demonstrators flew U.S. flags and sang the Star-Spangled Banner while the response from the Trump administration has been publicly muted.
The protests gained massive public support in June, then focused on proposed legislation to allow the government of mainland China to try accused residents of semi-autonomous Hong Kong. Critics claim the legislation was designed by the CPC to see that those accused face torture and unfair or politically charged trials. The focus of demonstrators has expanded, however, as anti-police brutality demands gained traction on Monday. Demonstrators are calling for the Hong Kong government’s executive leader, Carrie Lam, to step down, and for police acquit themselves professionally, respecting the human rights of those protesting.
False Flags And Agent Provocateurs
The pro-freedom crowd seemed to reserve their most strident criticism for police use of force abuses, as well as the use of police agent provocateurs. The Washington Post reports:
“The police intervened after a frenzied mob of protesters seized a man, claiming he was an undercover Chinese police officer and blocked paramedics from transporting him for hours after he lost consciousness. Later Tuesday night, the group seized a second Chinese man, identified by his documents and his editor as a reporter for the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper.”
Another scene involved a suspected undercover officer where “[p]rotesters held a handmade sign over the man that read in English, ‘I am China’s police. I pretend to be protester.’” At a press briefing earlier this week, Deputy Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-Keung admitted that officers disguised themselves as “different characters,” but refused to say how many were involved and when the undercover operation first began. He dismissed allegations of impropriety, including an incident captured on camera where police appeared to plant pointed sticks into the backpack of an arrestee.
Trump Keeping Quiet Publicly – Sends Pence For Private Meeting
On Tuesday, the Trump Administration’s most visible communications on the issue were tweets from the president. President Trump re-tweeted a video clip of what appears to be pro-freedom demonstrators in Hong Kong waiving the U.S. flag while singing the Star-Spangled Banner. There was, however, little to discern in terms of the administration position on China’s latest actions in Hong Kong. The President did mention his trade war with China, announcing a delay in implementation of new tariffs until mid-December:
“We are doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. consumers. So far they’ve had virtually none. The only impact has been that we’ve collected almost $60 billion from China, compliments of China. But just in case they might have an impact on people, what we’ve done is we’ve delayed it so they won’t be relevant for the Christmas shopping season.”
Vice President Pence met with China’s Secretary of State equivalent, Yang Jiechi, in private in New York on Tuesday. Very little is known about the meeting, however. The State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus simply said, “Director Yang Jiechi and Secretary Michael R. Pompeo had an extended exchange of views on U.S.-China relations.”
Earlier in August, Jiechi was openly critical of the United States, saying: “The U.S. and some other Western governments … are constantly fanning the flames of the situation in Hong Kong,”
As there is potential for further flight disruptions at short notice, travelers who may be impacted by the goings-on at the airport should check with their airlines for information. Further disruptions to the Communist Party of China’s plans to crush dissent and free speech on the island will be reported on here.