Hong Kong’s international airport — one of the busiest in Asia — had emerged as a key protest target before today’s mass gathering, as anti-government demonstrators looked to take their message directly to the international community.
At the airport over the weekend, leaflets in Chinese, English, French, Korean, Japanese and other languages were handed out to arriving international visitors, explaining the causes of the unrest — as protesters see it — and the demands of the opposition movement.
Showcasing the slick design that has characterized the protests, other pamphlets and posters also advertised planned demonstrations as “new tourist spots,” handed out airline tickets “to freedom” and advised tourists what to do if they were caught in the protests during their visit.
The economy takes a hit: While China is Hong Kong’s most important trading partner, the city is an international business and financial hub, and the economy is already showing signs of hurting as a result of the protests.
Businesses, both international and local, in Hong Kong have also faced pressure and accusations of acting in concert or sympathizing with the protesters. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier and a major local employer, has been ordered by Chinese aviation authorities to ban staff who took part in protests from traveling to China.
The PR battle: By appealing to the international community, and making sure it is their message that most foreigners are seeing, protesters have shown themselves adept at public relations. Meanwhile despite carrying out regular press briefings, the Hong Kong government has at times appeared at a loss as to how to engage with residents and protesters.
Read more analysis here.