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Hong Kong airport protests: What you need to know

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Hong Kong International Airport rescheduled hundreds of flights that had been disrupted over 2 days of protests as it reopened Wednesday following clashes between police and demonstrators, Reuters reports.

The latest: The Airport Authority said it had obtained a temporary injunction banning protesters from entering certain areas, per the BBC. Thousands of protesters packed the departure area and blocked security gates on Tuesday, before riot police carrying pepper spray entered the airport for the first time since the protests began, reports the Washington Post.

  • Outgoing flight service was suspended at 5 pm as operations were “seriously disrupted,” with Hong Kong‘s leader Carrie Lam cautioning that the city was on “the brink of no return,” according to CNN.
  • Protesters defied warnings from China and Lam, gathering for a 5th consecutive day of airport demonstrations, writes CNN.
  • Paramilitary police assembled across the border in Shenzhen — a move some see as a threat to protesters, AP notes. Lam said “lawbreaking activities in the name of freedom” were damaging the rule of law.
Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss.”
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam appeals to protesters at a news conference

Why it matters: The airport chaos marks a massive disruption to the Chinese-controlled territory’s economy since protests started in June.

  • Monday’s demonstrations prompted the Chinese government to claim the former British colony’s uprising contained “sprouts of terrorism,” raising fears China may use such language to justify a heavy-handed response or harsh charges for those detained.

The big picture: The disruption at the airport — one of the busiest in the world, with about 1,100 flights daily across nearly 200 destinations — came after riot police used tear gas on Hong Kongers in the 10th straight weekend of protests.

  • On Monday, airport authorities canceled flight departures after thousands of demonstrators packed the main terminal and bus, train and taxi exits, per Reuters.
  • Lam defended police amid brutality claims. Law enforcement told a news conference earlier that some officers posed as protesters during unrest on Sunday, according to the BBC.

Go deeper: Pro Rata Podcast: Behind the Hong Kong protests

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with more details on the demonstrations, airport developments and Lam’s comments.

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