Cathay CEO resigns amid Hong Kong protest blowback as more rallies planned
The boss of Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways quit on Friday, the highest-profile corporate casualty of unrest roiling the former British colony, after Beijing targeted the airline over staff involvement in mass protests, reports Trend referring to Reuters.
The corporate upheaval comes ahead of a weekend where further protests are planned, including what could be a large gathering on Sunday that could test whether a movement that has enjoyed broad support can retain it, even as violence escalates.
Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997.
Police have granted permission for a rally called “Stand with Hong Kong, Power to the People” planned in the central business district on Friday night. But they have banned other protests planned for the weekend.
A rally set for Sunday by the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized million-strong marches in June, has only been allowed permission for an assembly in Victoria Park on Hong Kong island, though not a march, due to safety concerns.
The group is appealing against the police decision.
Another march planned in Kowloon’s Hung Hom district on Saturday has also been banned.
Ten weeks of confrontations between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into turmoil, and present the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Police tactics against protesters have been hardening.
“Any person who endangers the safe operation of the aerodrome or the safety of persons in the aerodrome by act of violence is liable to life imprisonment,” Acting Chief Superintendent Man-pun Yeung told reporters on Friday.
Nearly 750 people have been arrested since the protests began in June, and tear gas has frequently been used by police in attempts to disperse protests across the city.
China has likened the increasingly violent protests to terrorism and warned it could use force to quell them, as U.S. President Donald Trump urged Xi meet protesters to defuse the tension.
Chinese paramilitary troops have been training this week in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, in a clear warning to the protesters. Hong Kong police reiterated on Friday that they are capable of maintaining law and order on their own.