Reuters HONG KONG (Reuters) — Demonstrators crowded the arrivals hall at Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, handing out anti-government leaflets and waving banners in a dozen languages in an effort to raise awareness among visitors ahead of a weekend of protests planned across the city.
Several hundred protesters, mostly young and wearing black T-shirts, gave out flyers headlined “Dear travelers” above artwork depicting the months-long protests that have plunged the financial hub into its biggest crisis since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
“Please forgive us for the ‘unexpected’ Hong Kong,” the English leaflets read. “You’ve arrived in a broken, torn-apart city, not the one you have once pictured. Yet for this Hong Kong, we fight,” the flyers said.
The increasingly violent protests also pose one of the gravest populist challenges yet to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
What started as an angry response to a now-suspended law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited for trial in Chinese courts has grown to include demands for greater democracy, the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and even keeping out mainland tourists.
The airport demonstration came as the city’s powerful property developers spoke out for the first time, urging calm after a dozen big companies warned in recent days that the unrest had dented earnings.
“The Hong Kong community has been suffering from the acts of violence perpetrated by a small group of individuals lately,” said a statement signed by 17 developers, including Henderson Land Development, New World Development 0017.HK, and Sun Hung Kai Properties.