Calm returned to Hong Kong airport. In the wake of a second day of chaos and clashes between pro-democracy policemen and protesters, departing flights resumed normally on Wednesday morning and check-in counters were operating while the vast majority of protesters left the airport - a handful stayed on the spot, most of them sleeping, AFP found.
Tuesday, while tens of thousands of passengers were penalized by this new protest action, China has increased the threat of intervention, through videos broadcast by its official media showing forces massing on the border of the semi region -Autonomous.
Challenging Hong Kong: How far can Beijing go?
The most serious crisis since the retrocession
In the evening, police used pepper spray while escorting a man evacuated by ambulance from the airport, denounced by the demonstrators as an undercover police officer. Their van was blocked by a few hundred radical protesters. The police then went out to clear the way, spraying gas and arresting at least two people, according to an AFP journalist.
Shortly after, another man was evacuated by ambulance after being beaten by a small group accusing him of being a spy. The Global Times, the official Chinese daily, said he was one of his reporters.
The former British colony is experiencing its worst crisis since its return to Beijing in 1997. Party early in June the rejection of a Hong Kong bill that intended to authorize extradition to China, the movement has significantly expanded its claims to denounce the retreat of freedoms and interferences of China.
On the fifth day of an unprecedented mobilization at the airport, protesters blocked the aisles and passages leading to the boarding areas. In response, the airport authorities canceled the registrations for all scheduled flights from the middle of the afternoon.
"A very disturbing and dangerous situation"
US President Donald Trump described the situation as "very difficult" on Tuesday, but said he hoped it could be resolved "peacefully" without anyone being "killed". US intelligence reports a deployment of the Chinese army "on the border with Hong Kong", he wrote on Twitter, calling "everyone" to "calm".
The head of the Hong Kong executive (who is designated by Beijing), Carrie Lam, has again warned against the consequences on Hong Kong, one of the world capitals of finance. "The violence (...) will push Hong Kong on a way without return" and the Hong Kong society will then risk plunging into "a very worrying and dangerous situation," Lam said during a press conference. "The situation over the past week made me fear that we have reached this dangerous situation," she added, with tears in her eyes.
But these statements have all but deterred the thousands of protesters who returned Tuesday afternoon to the airport, one of the busiest in the world with 74 million passengers per year.
In contrast to the peaceful sit-ins in the arrivals hall of recent days, protesters often dressed in black - the iconic color of the movement - and mostly masked this time blocked access to security checkpoints.
"Eye for an eye !"
Protesters erected barricades with baggage trolleys to block access to the security zones, before forming a human chain to prevent passing passengers, with whom some clashes occurred.
Monday, more than 5,000 people had invaded the airport to denounce the police violence. The airport authorities then canceled all the remaining flights of the day.
"Defend Hong Kong, defend liberties!" Protesters chanted Tuesday, while on the walls, some had tagged, "Eye for an eye!" The slogan was adopted by the protesters in an allusion to a woman badly wounded in the face in scuffles Sunday night. The protesters say she was hit by a police shot.
The mobilization is an unprecedented challenge for the Chinese central government. On Tuesday, Chinese official media described the protesters as "gangsters", raising the specter of intervention by the security forces.
A territory "on the edge of the abyss"
Many stuck passengers continued to show their solidarity with the protesters. They are "the most adorable people in the world," said smiling 65-year-old Pete Knox, who makes a 10-month world tour with his bike. "I understand the substance of their mobilization that concerns freedom and democracy, two crucial things."
But some were also starting to lose patience. "I have nothing against the protesters, but we are five hours late," said Wing Au-yeung, 50, calling. "They do what they want but they should not interfere with people."
The People's Daily and the Global Times, direct emanations of the Communist Party, have been broadcasting videos purporting to present armored personnel carriers heading for Shenzhen, just outside Hong Kong. A territory now "on the edge of the abyss", warned in an interview with the BBC its last British governor, Chris Patten.