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China bans supporters of Hong Kong protests from flying over mainland airspace

ANI  |  Asia 

In a major move, China has banned the Cathay Pacific Airways airline staff who supported or participated in Hong Kong protests, from flying over the mainland's airspace.

China took this step as a strong action against the anti-government protests that have been continuing across the streets of the semi-autonomous regions since the last two months.

As part of the same demands, Beijing, on Friday, urged the airline to begin submitting information about all crew members flying to -- or above -- the mainland to the Chinese authorities for prior approval, The New York Times reported.

Cathay, on Saturday, said separately that it had removed a pilot from flying duties, who was charged with rioting in Hong Kong, and that it had fired two airport ground staff for misconduct.

Some in the semi-autonomous territory also fear that China's political encroachment also represents an economic threat, not only to Cathay but also to all multinational companies in Hong Kong.

Cathay representatives did not respond to the Times on Sunday when asked how exactly the company planned to enforce the new orders from Beijing. China's aviation regulator was not available for comment.

The airline's second-largest owner is Air China, the state-run carrier. Cathay Pacific's shares were trading about four per cent lower early Monday, underlining the impending economic pressures to be borne by Hong Kong.

Tourist visits have declined, and the Hong Kong stock market has been falling for the past several weeks.

However, several Cathay employees interviewed by the newspaper over the weekend said that the company had not asked workers about their involvement in or attitudes toward the demonstrations, something that it would presumably need to do to stop them from working on flights to mainland China.

The semi-autonomous region has seen ten consecutive weeks of anti-government protests that began against a now-suspended extradition bill, and have since broadened to include calls for democracy and police accountability.

More than 600 people have been arrested since the protests escalated in June.

The said extradition bill was proposed on April 3 and its opposers argue that its controversial amendments will leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by the Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offences.

Multiple protests, sometimes violent, continue to take place in the semi-autonomous state despite the city's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam publicly apologising for proposing the controversial legislation and announcing later that the bill was "dead".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, August 12 2019. 11:39 IST
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