Flights canceled, major roads blocked as Hong Kong protests escalate
Though half the flights arriving or leaving in Hong Kong have been canceled, the airport is still packed with people. The business class check-in line, usually empty or with only a few people on a regular day, was registering a 45-minute wait.
One passenger, Andrea Lo, was due to fly from Japan to Hong Kong -- but her flight has now been rescheduled for tomorrow evening.
"I received an alert at around 3 a.m. local time telling us about the rescheduling. I initially assumed the delay was for the same day since I’ve rarely seen flights delayed for more than 24 hours, so was a bit surprised upon double checking to see it’s delayed to tomorrow," Lo said.
Matthew Cheung, the secretary for administration, addressed today's planned citywide strikes in a press conference.
"Strikes will bring no good to Hong Kong," he said, thanking workers who had left for work earlier today ahead of planned transit disruptions by protesters and calls for a citywide strike.
"We express strong regret that protesters are blocking MTR train doors. We urge employers to show compassion for employees who show up to work late."
Cheung added that emergency and hospital services had not been impacted so far.
In an ongoing press conference, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam condemned the violent protests that have rumbled on for months despite her suspending the controversial extradition bill that started them all.
"Such extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands, or uncooperative movement have seriously undermined Hong Kong's law and order, and are pushing our city -- the city we all love and many of us helped to build -- to the verge of a very dangerous situation," she said.
"As a result of these widespread disruptions and violence, the great majority of Hong Kong people are in a state of great anxiety. Some of them do not know whether they could take some forms of public transport, while others right now are being blocked on the way to work. The government will be resolute in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong."
"We all love Hong Kong and have made different contributions to its stability and prosperity over the years," she added, calling for citizens to "set aside differences" and rally together.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that the mass protests that have rocked the city over the past nine weeks are impacting the city's economy.
"Our economy and livelihood have started to show signs of problems. Our society is becoming unsafe and unstable," she said.
Lam said the government had set up a cross-department working group to monitor strikes across the city on Monday.
"Some can choose to go on strike, but they should respect others’ rights to go to work," Lam said, noting that those most affected by the strikes are low-income groups.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index has fallen nearly 9% since a recent peak on July 2, a day after the annual July 1 protests that mark the anniversary of the city's handover from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.
Speaking in an ongoing press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said calls for revolution "far exceeded" the protesters' original demands, and insisted Hong Kong was already free.
"Hong Kong is a free society -- freedom is our core value. Some violent protesters used violence to express their views. Some extreme violent protesters have changed the nature of the protest, including defacing the anthem and throwing flags into the river," Lam said.
"They called for revolution and to liberate Hong Kong. These have far exceeded the original demands."
She added that protester actions would "undermine Hong Kong’s stability."
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has just started speaking, addressing the media as protests and strikes begin across the city.
"Hong Kong has always been one of the safest cities in the world. Here we can express our views freely," she said.
"The violent protest actions have pushed Hong Kong to a very dangerous situation. The violence and destructive acts have escalated, including blocking the tunnel, MTR and surrounding police stations. Some extreme violent protesters even threw bricks, threw petrol bombs and made bombs."
All eyes will be on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Monday morning.
Lam, who is due to appear at 10 a.m. local time, has come under significant criticism both for the way she's handled the city's evolving protests and for her perceived lack of communication with the public.
She's only spoken publicly a handful of times -- despite protests taking place for nine weekends in a row.
The protest movement began in opposition to a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to China. Lam was a major proponent of the measure, but after hundreds of thousands of people took to the street in opposition to the bill, she admitted that she had not understood the depth of public opposition. She then apologized and shelved the proposed law.
Many protesters were angry that Lam did not fully withdraw the bill. Demonstrators who have taken to the streets in recent days have been calling for Lam to step down and for the full withdrawal of the bill.