Armed police patrol the departure hall of Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday after the city’s High Court issued an interim injunction banning unlawful obstruction of airport operations. (Thomas Peter / REUTERS)
Violent attacks on a reporter and a tourist from the Chinese mainland by rioters at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday night were strongly condemned by the central government on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the airport resumed operations on Wednesday after the High Court in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued an interim injunction banning unlawful obstruction of airport operations.
Recently, radical violators in Hong Kong have completely breached the bottom line of law, morality and humanity
Xu Luying, a spokeswoman for the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office
The order, requested by Airport Authority Hong Kong, prohibits any person from unlawfully and willfully obstructing and interfering with operations at the airport, according to a statement issued by the authority on Wednesday morning.
Xu Luying, a spokeswoman for the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said the violence at the airport on Tuesday night, in which radicals who had gathered there “seriously injured” the two mainland residents, was particularly shocking.
Xu expressed great indignation over the violence in a statement, saying that the central government supported Hong Kong police action to arrest the rioters.
At about 8 pm on Tuesday, radicals restrained a man surnamed Xu, from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, who was seeing people off at the airport. They later shone a laser pointer in his eyes and beat him unconscious.
READ MORE: HK scholars deplore illegal, violent acts
After rescue personnel arrived, the radicals tried to obstruct their efforts. With the help of police, the man was rescued after nearly four hours. The radicals also attacked a police officer and grabbed his baton, the spokeswoman said.
At midnight, violent activists bound the hands of Fu Guohao, a reporter for the Global Times website, accusing him of posing as a reporter. They beat Fu, “leading to multiple injuries”, the statement said.
The two men were later taken to a hospital.
“We condemn in the strongest terms such acts that are akin to terrorism and express our deep sympathy to the injured mainland residents and Hong Kong police officers,” the spokeswoman said.
“Recently, radical violators in Hong Kong have completely breached the bottom line of law, morality and humanity. Their flagrant acts of serious violent crimes in public are shocking and chilling. Their violence shows extreme contempt for the rule of law and has seriously damaged Hong Kong’s international image and hurt the feelings of compatriots on the mainland,” Xu said.
She added that such violent crimes must be severely punished according to the law.
“We firmly support the Hong Kong police force and the judiciary in rigorously enforcing the law and bringing criminals to justice as soon as possible,” she said.
The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR said in a statement that the detainment and brutal attack on the reporter challenged and insulted the media sector and seriously infringed on press freedom.
“The atrocity has totally gone beyond the bottom line of a civilized society, and is no different from terrorist acts,” the office said.
In addition, the office said the protesters’ acts — including paralyzing operations at the airport and harassing passengers of various nationalities and ages — severely affected others’ rights and damaged Hong Kong’s international reputation.
“This time the protesters have torn down their deceptive masks of ‘peace, rationality and nonviolence’,” the statement added.
The office pledged it will continue to assist relevant authorities in safeguarding the personal safety and legitimate rights of mainland residents in Hong Kong.
A senior police officer in Hong Kong said on Wednesday that five men were arrested on Tuesday night at the airport for offenses including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.
Mak Chin-ho, assistant commissioner of police operations, said at a daily briefing on Wednesday that willfully committing violent acts in airports may lead to severe personal injury or death to others and could result in lifelong imprisonment for perpetrators.
But the five arrested were not directly involved in the assaults on the two mainland residents, added Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung.
Fred Lam Tin-fuk, chief executive of the Airport Authority, said in the past two days, 979 flights were canceled.
The entire aviation industry will be seriously impacted if the situation is allowed to continue, Lam said.
Many renowned businesspeople in Hong Kong also condemned the recent violent incidents and appealed to the public to join hands to curb violence and seek a way out for the future development of the city.
Peter Woo, former chairman of Wharf Holdings, recently issued a statement saying Hong Kong has seen many acts of violence and bullying in the past two weeks.
The “anti-extradition bill” appeal has been accepted by the SAR government. The current movement is a power struggle with the central government which aims to change the Basic Law, Woo said in the statement.
He added that ending the violence should be the only goal at the moment.
Raymond Kwok, chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest developer in Hong Kong, said the recent acts of violence challenged the rule of law, damaged Hong Kong’s economy and seriously affected people’s lives.
“Protesters should end violence and return to rationality. Only through communication and dialogue will there be a way out for Hong Kong’s tomorrow,” Kwok said.
He added that “one country, two systems” is the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success and a pillar of its prosperity. It must not allow a series of escalating violent acts to undermine the foundation of the city.
A tour guide from South Korea, who requested anonymity, said 12 tourists in his tour group had been stranded in Hong Kong for a day. The guide, who has been working in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, said this was the first time he can recall that the airport was shut down due to factors other than weather-related events.
Li Lei, a 30-year-old traveler from Chengdu, Sichuan province, said he slept at the airport overnight after his connecting flight was canceled. “I was angry and worried. But Hong Kong belongs to China. Chinese people should not be afraid of standing on Chinese soil.”
Pamela Lin, Kathy Zhang and Wang Keju contributed to this story.
HONG KONG NEWS