Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Riot police and demonstrators clashed again Tuesday inside Hong Kong International Airport, just hours after the disruption grounded all outbound flights for the second half of the day.
Protesters started a mass sit-in Monday and expanded their presence Tuesday. Police ultimately moved in and began arresting activists, officials said. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
The clashes came after the airport suspended all late afternoon departures, stranding hundreds of passengers for a second day. Officials said they wouldn't allow any check-ins after 4:30 p.m. for departing flights. Prior check-ins were allowed to proceed, as were all incoming flights for the rest of Tuesday. All flights had been canceled Monday.
The activists are calling for multiple reforms, for a controversial extradition bill and police brutality.
"Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended," the airport said in an advisory on its website. "All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible. Affected passengers please contact their respective airlines for flight arrangement."
"Let's set aside differences and spend one minute to look at our city and home," she said. "Could we bear to push it into an abyss where everything will perish? We need to object to violence and maintain the rule of law ... When this all calms down, we will start to have sincere dialogues and rebuild harmony."
She said the island was "seriously wounded" and will take "a long time to recover." Monday, China said the unrest showed signals of emerging "terrorism."
"Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly attacked police officers with extremely dangerous tools. They have already constituted serious violent crimes and have begun to show signs of terrorism," said Yang Guang, a spokesman for Beijing's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. "This is a gross violation of the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong."
Yang said China supports Hong Kong police and administrators, and that such protests "must be resolutely cracked down" upon within the confines of the law.
"We strongly support the decisive enforcement of the Hong Kong Police Force and the judiciary and the strict administration of justice," he said.
Tuesday, Beijing's foreign ministry accused the United States of conspiring with protesters to inflame the situation.
"Some senior U.S. politicians and diplomatic officials met and engaged with anti-China rabble-rousers in Hong Kong, criticized China unreasonably, propped up violent and illegal activities and undermined Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement. "These facts are only too obvious. I'd like to ask the United States this question again: What is the true intention behind your behaviors relating to Hong Kong?"
She added that Hong Kong is part of China and urged the United States to stop interfering in China's international affairs "at once."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tweeted late Monday, "the people of Hong Kong are bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party as Beijing tries to encroach on their autonomy and Freedom."
"Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable," he added. "As I have said on the Senate floor: The world is watching."
Last month, McConnell accused Beijing of overreach in its treatment of Hong Kong and warned it's emblematic of how the Asian country is working to extend its power and influence over other nations.
The semi-autonomous island has seen nearly continuous demonstrations since early June, that have increased in severity, magnitude and violence. Activists have clashed with police while demanding that China not whittle away at the freedoms it does not share with the mainland under its "one country, two systems" model of governance.
The initial primary opposition rejected a controversial extradition bill that would allow China to access fugitives in Hong Kong, but it's since expanded into a wider pro-democracy movement in which protesters have accused police of brutality and the government of ignoring their demands.
The European Union urges "all sides' to exercise restraint amid growing tensions and protests and "de-escalate the situation."
"It is now more vital than ever to engage in a political process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue involving all stakeholders," the EU said in a statement.