City-Wide Strikes Bring Hong Kong To A Standstill
HONG KONG -- Hong Kong was hit by widespread strikes Monday that brought chaos to much of the city's transport network, including Hong Kong International Airport, in the most ambitious day of demonstrations since the movement began in June.
More than 2,300 aviation workers joined the strike, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, leading to the cancellation of 224 flights to and from one of the world's busiest airports. The airport was packed with unusually long lines, and its air space and runway capacity was reduced by 50%.
Experts said Monday's strikes were the biggest to have rocked the city in decades.
Direct action protests also took place in seven districts: Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tseun Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po. Organizers also called for a general strike at Disneyland and the airport, both on Hong Kong's Lantau Island.
Strikers included teachers, lifeguards at beaches, security workers, construction workers -- and almost 14,000 people from the engineering sector.
Monday's strike followed the ninth consecutive weekend of protests in Hong Kong amid a worsening political crisis. The protests began in early June in opposition to a controversial -- and now-shelved -- bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China.
But they have since evolved to include calls for greater democracy, an inquiry into alleged police brutality and the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, among other demands.
Monday's general strikes are believed to be the first of their kind since 1967, when a Chinese Communist Party-allied union instigated widespread labor protests -- which were followed by deadly terror attacks in which 51 people died.
Antony Dapiran, a lawyer and Hong Kong historian, said Monday's strikes are likely the biggest in the city since those in 1967, when Hong Kong was still a British colony. "I've never seen anything like it," he said.
(PHOTO: Vincent Thian/AP/CNN)