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Hong Kong airport reopens as Trudeau urges China to address 'serious concerns' | World news


Operations have resumed at Hong Kong airport, authorities have said, after protesters shut down one of the world’s busiest airports in a dramatic escalation of months of mass demonstrations.

Dozens of flights were cancelled on Tuesday and further delays were expected after thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the city’s airport on Monday, with travellers urged to check with their airline before they travel.

On Monday, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he was very worried about events in Hong Kong, which has a large Canadian population, and urged Chinese authorities to handle the protests there with tact.

“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. We see the need for de-escalation of tensions, we need to see the local authorities listening to the very serious concerns brought forward by Chinese citizens,” said Trudeau, whose country is locked in a trade and diplomatic dispute with Beijing.

“We are calling for peace, for order, for dialogue ... we certainly call on China to be very careful and very respectful in how it deals with people who have legitimate concerns in Hong Kong,” Trudeau told a televised news conference in Toronto.

A senior official in the administration of US president Donald Trump on Monday urged “all sides” to avoid violence in Hong Kong. “Societies are best served when diverse political views are respected and can be freely and peacefully expressed,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The unprecedented cancellation of all flights followed the fourth consecutive day of protests at the airport and amid increasingly threatening statements from Beijing. A Chinese official said “terrorism” was emerging in the city, while in Hong Kong authorities demonstrated water cannon for use in crowd control.

The protests are in their 10th week, with confrontations between protesters and police growing more violent. Rights groups and democracy activists have accused police of using increasingly excessive force. At least 40 people were treated in hospital after clashes on Sunday, including a woman who was hit, reportedly with a beanbag round, and could potentially lose an eye.

In Beijing, authorities criticised violent protesters who threw petrol bombs at police officers, linking them to “terrorism”.

“Hong Kong‘s radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging,” said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. “This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong‘s rule of law and social order.”

Later on Monday, two state media outlets ran videos showing armoured personnel and troop carriers purportedly driving to Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.

A commentary early on Tuesday in China’s official Xinhua news agency spoke of “black-clad mobsters” and said Hong Kong‘s future was at a “critical juncture”.

Trudeau’s comments were the most expansive yet by a senior Canadian official about anti-government protests that have swept Hong Kong over the past two months. China said on Monday the demonstrations had begun to show “sprouts of terrorism”.

Trudeau also said he was focused on the need to protect Canada’s interests in Hong Kong, which is home to about 300,000 Canadian citizens.

His comments are unlikely to improve already poor relations between Ottawa and Beijing, which are embroiled in a trade and diplomatic dispute over Canada’s arrest of a senior Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, on a US warrant last year.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this article


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