Although Hong Kong's airport is back up and running, the city’s political unrest is far from settled. Local police and the Chinese government both condemned protesters Wednesday, saying they had “crossed the line” and would be prosecuted accordingly. Beijing also blamed the U.S. for the pro-democracy demonstrations, as President Trump tried to maintain neutral ground. Amna Nawaz reports.
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As the protests in Hong Kong have become more intense over the past few weeks, the rhetoric from Beijing has also become harsher. An editorial in a Chinese Communist Party outlet today accused the protesters of wanting to foment a revolution, something they said will not be permitted.
The Hong Kong airport is back up and running, but tensions between the thousands of pro-democracy protesters who shut it down and Hong Kong's government are far from resolved. Police say at least five people were arrested after days of protests there that canceled 300 flights and at times turned violent.
Today, police defended their tactics and said those apprehended will face justice.
Mak Chin Ho:
The Hong Kong police have always facilitated peaceful and orderly protests over the years. But the extremely radical and violent acts have certainly crossed the line, and ought to be most severely condemned.
Smaller numbers of protesters returned today to the airport, with signs criticizing city government and police.
At night, Hong Kong police in riot gear fired tear gas at protesters in the street outside a police station. Since early June, waves of protest have rocked Hong Kong in response to a proposed law that would allow extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China. This leaderless group has sought to build on 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations known as the "Umbrella Movement," when hundreds of thousands took to the streets against a proposal to change the city's electoral rules.
Beijing took control of Hong Kong from Britain in a 1997 handover; under Hong Kong's so-called Basic Law that followed, China guaranteed some political independence, freedoms and democratic elections in Hong Kong under a set-up known as One Country, Two Systems. Protesters accuse Beijing of trying to undermine that framework.
China's ruling Communist Party continued its tough talk against protesters today, and bashed them through state TV.
Cui Zhigang (through translator):
We express our strongest condemnation of this near-terrorist act and express our deepest condolences to the injured mainland compatriots and Hong Kong police officers.
Beijing also again accused the U.S. of being the, quote-unquote, black hands behind demonstrations.
President Trump tweeted yesterday he, quote, can't imagine why anyone would blame the U.S. for the problems in Hong Kong.
Earlier yesterday, the president tried to chart a middle ground between protesters and the Beijing government, run by the man he's called a good friend, President Xi Jinping.
President Donald Trump:
It's a very tricky situation. I think it will work out and I hope it works out for liberty, I hope it works out for everyone, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt, I hope nobody gets killed.
In Congress, some expressed outright support for the protesters. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter last night, quote: America stands with Hong Kong.
Today, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory for travel to Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Beijing in recent days released video of armored personnel carriers en route to the border of Hong Kong. And new satellite images appear to show Chinese security force vehicles in a sports stadium in the city of Shenzhen, on the border.