Asian markets moved back into positive territory after Hong Kong airport resumed operations, following a night of chaos where violent clashes between locals and the police were documented across social media.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (^HSI) and China’s Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) were up near 1% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 (^N225) rose to by similar amounts. The markets were also given a lift by US president Donald Trump’s delay to tariffs.
After mass flight cancellations on Monday and Tuesday, Hong Kong’s airport resumed operations, although many flights remain delayed or cancelled.
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said it had obtained a temporary injunction that would mean people would be "restrained from attending or participating in any demonstration or protest ... in the airport other than in the area designated by the Airport Authority."
Over the last 10 weeks, protesters have flooded the streets of Hong Kong and more recently the airport over a bill that allows authorities in Hong Kong to extradite locals to mainland China. It has led to violent clashes between the authorities and the young and old alike.
Police officer had his baton taken from him and was attacked with it. Drew his pistol and aimed at protesters. Astonished nobody killed here tonight. pic.twitter.com/Wox8yziDnz
— Mike Bird (@Birdyword) August 13, 2019
The Hong Kong government condemned the violence at the airport and said the "violent acts” were “outrageous" and they had "overstepped the bottom line of a civilised society." It added that the police would take "relentless enforcement action to bring the persons involved to justice."
Companies have been bowing to pressure from China to suspend or sack staff that are seen to support pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong.
This week, Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) sacked two employees and suspended a pilot. CEO Rupert Hogg wrote in a memo to employees that the company is legally required to comply with China's aviation authority. He confirmed that staff would be "immediately suspended" from any flights or "air transportation" activity involving mainland China, if they were involved in protests.
"Our primary focus must remain on delivering a safe, comfortable customer experience for everyone who chooses to fly with us. At the same time, we always try to create a safe, supportive environment for all Cathay Pacific Group employees. Though people may share different views, it is essential that we all respect each other, our customers and members of the public."