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Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific warns against protest outside its premises

Wed 28th August, 2019 3:02am
HONG KONG, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Hong Kong carrier Cathay
Pacific Airways  0293.HK  warned against what it described as an
illegal protest planned outside its facilities on Wednesday and
that it had zero tolerance for "violent activities" and any
staff who took part.
    Cathay has been caught in the crosswinds between authorities
in Beijing and anti-government protesters who have staged
sometimes violent demonstrations since June that have grown to
pose the city's biggest challenge since it returned to Chinese
rule in 1997.
    The carrier said in a statement late on Tuesday police had
banned a planned protest around its Cathay City headquarters on
Lantau island, next to Hong Kong's international airport, on
Wednesday evening, making it illegal.   
    "Cathay Pacific wishes to emphasize that it fully supports
the upholding of the Basic Law and all the rights and freedoms
afforded by it," the statement said.
    The protests in the Asian financial hub have also posed the
biggest challenge for Communist Party rulers in Beijing since
President Xi Jinping took power in 2012. Authorities in Beijing
have sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible
to subdue the violence.
    Unrest escalated in mid-June over a now-suspended
extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to
mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.
    It has since evolved into calls for greater democracy under
the "one country, two systems" formula enshrined in the Basic
Law under which Hong Kong has been administered since the return
from British to Chinese rule.
    Cathay became the biggest corporate casualty of the protests
after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who
support, the demonstrations.
    Wednesday's planned rally, aimed at protesting against
recent staff dismissals, has since been moved to the central
financial district by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade
Unions, which cited safety concerns if it was held outside
Cathay City.
    Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's embattled leader, has not ruled out
the possibility her administration could invoke emergency powers
to quell the protests. She said in a news briefing on Tuesday
that violence was becoming more serious but was confident the
government could handle the crisis itself.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N25N0LN
    Imposing the Emergency Regulations Ordinance would give Lam
wide-ranging powers - from changing laws, authorising arrests,
detentions and deportations, to censoring the media - according
to legislation on the government's website.
    Hong Kong billionaire Michael Kadoorie, the chairman of
power company CLP Holdings  0002.HK  and Hong Kong and Shanghai
Hotels Limited  0045.HK , urged a peaceful resolution to the
crisis in a full-page newspaper advertisement published in the
South China Morning Post newspaper on Wednesday.
    Kadoorie quoted his late father in saying that Hong Kong was
always going to develop as a neutral point of contact between
two different ideologies and two different systems of government
and said the city could not leave its young people in despair.
    "It is the responsibility of all of us to rebuild trust in
the community and create hope for the younger generation,"
Kadoorie said.

 (Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Donny Kwok; Writing by Farah
Master; Editing by Paul Tait)
 ((farah.master@thomsonreuters.com; +852 28431631 ;))
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