Hong Kong's leader warns city faces 'path of no return'

The nosedive in stocks comes as the airline is caught up in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

The airport, one of the world's busiest, blamed demonstrators for halting flights on Monday.

Intense protests then followed on June 9 as hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were joined by civil servants and others, including business professionals.

"One must take resolute action toward this violent criminality, showing no leniency or mercy", said the statement, attributed to spokesman Yang Guang (楊光).

Hong Kong's airport reopened on Tuesday but its administrator warned that flight movements would still be affected, after China said protests that have swept the city over the past two months had begun to show the "sprouts of terrorism".

Calls for a mass protest at the airport came after police and demonstrators fought pitched battles on the streets across several districts of the city on Sunday.

"Protesters have been frequently using extremely risky tools to attack the police in recent days, constituting serious crimes with sprouts of terrorism emerging", said Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office spokesman Yang Guang in Beijing.

But if you check out the websites of major airlines, many flights still remain "cancelled".

Embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the "lawbreaking activities in the name of freedom" were damaging the rule of law and that it could take a long time for the city to recover from the protests.

Tear gas was also deployed in central Hong Kong on both sides of Victoria Harbour, in the Tsim Sha Tsui area on the Kowloon side and in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island.

The demonstrations have become increasingly violent, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets, and protesters sometimes hurling bricks and bottles. A large crowd sat under umbrellas, which are both a protest symbol in Hong Kong and protection from the summer heat. "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".

Passengers with luggage were being checked in for flights, and only a handful of the thousands of protesters who flooded into the airport a day earlier remained in the building. "I didn't make any plans for Hong Kong", said Chakravarti, who had a carry-on bag with laptop, charger and an extra shirt while the rest of his luggage already was checked in on his Singapore Airlines flight.

"Yesterday's police operation was ridiculous", said Nicekayla, a 27-year-old retail worker who, like numerous protesters, declined to use her real name for fear of arrest.

In a statement, officials blamed "seriously disrupted" operations.

In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China, under the assumption that there would be a "one country, two systems" operation in place - meaning there would be one country, China, but two distinct Chinese regions: China and Hong Kong.

Another protester, who identified herself only as Bea, said she took the day off from work to express her outrage because "I feel that I have to do something. I hope the government will hear us".

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