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Hong Kong at 'critical juncture' as rioters show signs of 'terrorism': China

Protesters gather at the departure hall of Hong Kong airport in Hong Kong, August 12, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

China has condemned violent protesters in Hong Kong where 5,000 people occupying the Hong Kong airport's arrivals hall for a fourth day went to the departure area Monday and caused disruptions.

"Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted ... all flights have been cancelled," the city's airport authority said in a statement.

With roads to the airport congested and car parks reported full, the authority advised all passengers to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible. 

Passengers, who gathered around flight displays, complained about the inconvenience, expressing concern about what could happen at the airport later this evening. 

Protests first rocked the streets ten weeks ago when people took to the streets to protest a proposed bill which would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.

While the proposed bill has been suspended, protests have continued and morphed over time into unruly riots.

Protesters are gathered at Hong Kong International Airport on August 12, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Yang Guang said on Monday the violent behavior of a "tiny minority" of radical demonstrators is behind the problem. 

"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," Yang said.

"This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order," he said at a press briefing in Beijing. 

As he spoke, China's People's Armed Police assembled in the neighboring city of Shenzhen for exercises, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said. 

Earlier Monday, police unveiled water cannon trucks as a new way to combat the riots, after tear gas and rubber bullets failed to stop more than two months of rallies. 

“Don’t ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness… Don’t ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government,” Yang told rioters in a statement.  

"Those who play with fire will perish by it," he warned.

The increasingly violent protests have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades. 

China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office said Monday the city had reached a critical juncture. 

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.

Last week, rioters stormed the Chinese government's office and defaced the national emblem.

Weeks of clashes between police and rioters —some of whom have been waving flags of the United States and the United Kingdom — are taking a growing toll on the city's economy.

On Sunday, China warned Britain to stay out of its internal affairs after British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab called for an independent investigation into the riots in its former colony.

The angry reaction came after the British Foreign Office said on Friday Raab had talked on phone with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and reminded her of citizens' right to hold protests in Hong Kong. 

“It is simply wrong for the British government to directly call Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to exert pressure,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, adding that Hong Kong is no longer a British colony and the UK has no supervisory rights.

“The Chinese side seriously urges the UK to stop its interference in China’s internal affairs and stop making random and inflammatory accusations on Hong Kong,” she said.

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