Hong Kong protests 'unprecedented' but businesses OK: eyewitness

Anti-government protests in Hong Kong shut down multiple transportation lines on Monday. Thousands of people participated in the citywide strike causing hundreds of flights in and out of the city to be canceled. That along with disruptions on commuter rail lines and road closures paralyzed Hong Kong, but so far, businesses are still operating as usual.

“Today is one of the most unprecedented scale of protests in Hong Kong, where six, seven districts protesting all together at the same time,” Kris Cheng, editorial director of the Hong Kong Free Press, told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move, from the front lines of the demonstrations. “I was just tear gassed a few minutes ago.”

Hong Kong — a critical travel hub for Asia — had more than 200 flights canceled as a result of the citywide strike and Cheng said hometown airlines threw their support behind the strikers. “We've seen, staff of Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, hundreds of them called in sick today, so they're not going to work.”

Despite the disruption is the airline industry, so far, protestors have refrained from trashing or looting local businesses and stores have remained immune from the impact of the protests, according to Cheng. While some shops are closing earlier because of protests, “businesses aren’t being harmed too much.”

Cheng described the chaotic scene unfolding in a residential district, one of many organized demonstrations across the city. “Protesters have been throwing rocks at the police station for hours. And police had to intervene, like in other districts,” said Cheng. “But just around maybe, like 30 minutes ago, police started moving and shoot — shot tear gas at protestors.”

A protester throws back a tear gas canister during a confrontation with police in Hong Kong on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. Hong Kong protesters removed a Chinese national flag from its pole and flung it into the city's iconic Victoria Harbour on Saturday, and police later fired tear gas at demonstrators after some of them vandalized a police station. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The question on everyone’s minds is how long Beijing will allow the demonstrations to continue before a possible crack-down. Cheng said the State Council, an administrative branch of the Chinese government, plans to hold a press conference on Tuesday to address the massive movement, “So, it's pretty big. And we don't know what Beijing would do about it,” he said.

Yvette Killian is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.

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