Flights canceled, major roads blocked as Hong Kong protests escalate

10:32 p.m. ET, August 5, 2019

Our live coverage of Monday's strikes and protests have ended, but you can read more about the ongoing crisis here.

10:31 p.m. ET, August 5, 2019

City-wide strikes bring Hong Kong to a standstill

A group of protesters prevent the doors of a commuter train from closing on August 5.
A group of protesters prevent the doors of a commuter train from closing on August 5.

Hong Kong was hit by widespread strikes Monday that brought chaos to much of the city's transport network, including Hong Kong International Airport, in the most ambitious day of demonstrations since the movement began in June.

Here's what happened on Monday:

  • Transport disruption: The day began with demonstrators disrupting major transit routes. Major subway lines were suspended or delayed as protesters blocked trains from leaving stations. Protesters also blocked roads and highways, including the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, a vital artery connecting Hong Kong island with Kowloon.
  • Chaos at the airport: More than 2,300 aviation workers joined the strike, leading to the cancellation of 224 flights. Unusually long queues were seen in the airport check-in hall throughout the day. Air space and runway capacity were reduced by 50% for all airlines, according to an airline's internal memo.
  • Direct action: Protests also took place in seven districts: Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tseun Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po. Organizers also called for a general strike at Disneyland and the airport.
  • Sectors on strike: Strikers included teachers, lifeguards at beaches, security workers, construction workers -- and almost 14,000 people from the engineering sector.
  • Police fire tear gas: As the afternoon wore on, clashes between protesters and police broke out across the city and police fired tear gas in five districts. 24 people were injured.
  • Official response: Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam gave her first press conference in two weeks, calling for an end to the violence. Police spokespeople also condemned protester violence.
  • Biggest strike in decades: Monday's general strikes are believed to be the first of their kind since 1967, when a Chinese Communist Party-allied union instigated widespread labor protests.
10:30 p.m. ET, August 5, 2019

A military crackdown in Hong Kong would backfire on China's economy

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier in Hong Kong on August 1, 2019.
A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier in Hong Kong on August 1, 2019. ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images

The idea of China's People Liberation Army (PLA) on the streets of Hong Kong seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Now it is being considered a possibility.

As Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests grow in frequency and intensity, the commander of the city's PLA garrison said last week that protester violence "should not be tolerated."

Five days of protests: Since then Hong Kong has witnessed another five consecutive days of mass protests, which have shut down stores, disrupted air travel and led to clashes between police and demonstrators. The Hong Kong stock market had its worst day in months on Monday.

Public fears: Hong Kong's government is legally allowed to request help from the PLA garrison of more than 6,000 soldiers if public order in the city spirals out of control.

There is no indication yet that troops may be deployed -- but the fear of PLA intervention has spread through the city and triggered memories of the brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

What would happen? The stock market would likely crash, followed by the housing market. A mass exodus could follow.

Given Hong Kong's close ties to mainland China, a decision to deploy the PLA could ricochet through the entire country at a time when the world's second biggest economy is already vulnerable because of the trade war with the United States.

Read more here.

10:13 p.m. ET, August 19, 2019

224 flights canceled after airport protest

Passengers line up at airline counters at Hong Kong international airport on August 5, 2019.
Passengers line up at airline counters at Hong Kong international airport on August 5, 2019. PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong's Airport Authority reported 224 flights were canceled Monday after a sit in protest at Hong Kong International Airport.

More than 2,300 aviation workers took part in the strike, including 1,200 Cathay cabin crew and pilots, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

11:51 a.m. ET, August 5, 2019

24 people hospitalized on Monday

Monday's clashes resulted in 24 people being sent to hospitals, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority told CNN.

As of 11 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), 16 people have been discharged from hospital, while six are in a stable condition, one is in a serious condition and one is "unknown."

10:31 p.m. ET, August 5, 2019

Protesters set up barricades

Protesters have completely blocked off Nathan road at multiple points -- which is the major artery in Hong Kong's Kowloon district.

Protesters set up barricades off Nathan road.
Protesters set up barricades off Nathan road. Ben Westcott/CNN

It comes after police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the area of Prince Edward, outside the Mong Kok police station.

11:24 a.m. ET, August 5, 2019

Amnesty International condemns alleged sexual assault of a female Hong Kong protester

Amnesty International condemned the alleged sexual assault of a female Hong Kong protester by the police on Sunday night, according to a statement.

"We condemn the police's brutality and disproportionate use of force in handling the subdued protester. The female protester's clothing was pulled up, exposing her private parts,” it said. 

When asked about the incident earlier on Monday, senior superintendent from Police Public Relations Branch, Yolanda Yu, said “the woman was wearing a dress and she struggled strongly, which explained what happened in front of the camera.”

Amnesty International rebutted the police’s explanation, saying that “protesters' clothing is not an excuse for the police's sexual violence.”

The protester has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer.

Amnesty International cautioned that her arrest should be conducted by female officers in order to “safeguard the rights and dignity of the woman under arrest.” 

Hong Kong police said they initially had three female officers attempt to arrest the woman but because she struggled so much, they had to get reinforcement from additional male officers.