Raw violence stuns worldTop News | Phoenix Un and James Yu 15 Aug 2019
Protesters were widely condemned after a mob assaulted two mainlanders at the Hong Kong International Airport late on Tuesday, with Beijing describing it as a "near-terrorist act."
The shocking scenes of violence were watched by millions around the world as they were broadcast live by major broadcasters including the BBC, CNN and Sky News.
The protesters occupied the airport during which they hit and detained two mainland visitors. One of them, Fu Guohao, is a reporter at the state-owned tabloid Global Times.
The State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office spokeswoman, Xu Luying, said yesterday: "We express our strongest condemnation of this near-terrorist act."
Xu expressed "enormous rage and strong condemnation" of the violence, with rioters mauling a mainland tourist and the reporter.
The radicals "completely broke through the bottom line of law, morality and human nature," the top Beijing office on Hong Kong said in a statement yesterday.
The Liaison Office said: "The protesters tore down their so-called peaceful, rational and non-violent masks in the unlawful assemblies at the airport."
It said the assault on journalist Fu was trampling on press freedom.
The liaison office singled out Fu for shouting "I support Hong Kong police" as he was being attacked.
On a website catering to tourists visiting Hong Kong, the government reassured that "Hong Kong remains a welcoming city for tourists and investors, a safe place for travelers from around the world."
Hong Kong has a long tradition of peaceful and orderly processions. However, in recent weeks, some protesters have blocked roadways, vandalized property and confronted the police in unlawful assemblies.
"Although the impact of these illegal confrontations is generally not widespread, it may have caused inconvenience to some visitors," said the Brand Hong Kong website.
The Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan Fan, said during yesterday's trans-departmental press conference that "the violent incident had stepped over the bottom line of a civilized society."
Airport Authority chief executive Fred Lam Tin-fuk said at the press conference he strongly condemned the violence and expressed his sympathy for the two injured mainland visitors. Mak Chin-ho, assistant commissioner of police in the operation branch, speaking at the police daily press conference yesterday, accused the radical violent rioters of lynching innocent tourists and taking justice into their own hands.
"They put other people's safety at risk during their pursuit of human rights," he said.
Mainland netizens also jumped on the bandwagon to condemn the Hong Kong protesters.
One netizen wrote: "As they are mobs, it becomes a good ground of sending army to suppress them, which is a sophisticated way to handle it."
Pro-establishment lawmakers also waded in. Ma Fung-kwok said the behavior of the protesters "already matched the definition of terrorism."
The chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Starry Lee Wai-king, said the protesters had exceeded the moral bottom line.
Her party colleague, Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, said all protesters should share the blame as the other peaceful protesters did not stop the violent ones.
But the convener of Democracy Camp Meetings, Claudia Mo Man-ching, said although the protesters were wrong for using violence, they had already realized their mistake and apologized.
Several protesters also returned to the airport and bowed to travelers as they apologized for the disruption caused, holding slogans "Sorry for inconvenience. HK is sick" and "Civil disobedience."
A citizen who had been at the airport in the past few days told an RTHK call-in program that protesters had gone too far on Tuesday night, but he believed the violence might stem from suspicion among protesters after police sent spies to infiltrate demonstrators.
A spokesman for the Royal Thai Air Force announced that they had placed two aircraft, one Airbus A340 and one C-130 Hercules transport, on standby in case an evacuation of Thai citizens from Hong Kong was necessary.