Hong Kong protesters attempted to “stress test” traffic going to and from the airport on Saturday, though operations remained smooth amid a heavy police presence.

Later in the day, the nearby neighbourhood of Tung Chung became a flashpoint between riot police and local residents. Police arrested some young protesters and warned they would use force, while angry crowds chanted slogans and yelled insults.

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Riot police deploy in force in Tung Chung. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Riot police were deployed en masse on routes leading to the airport on Saturday, with large teams spotted at Airport Express stations and bus stops.

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Hong Kong Station. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The MTR Corporation announced at 9am that the Airport Express would not stop at any station except for Hong Kong station and the airport. The free shuttle bus service from Kowloon Station was also suspended.

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Hong Kong Station. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Police also stopped buses at the Lantau Link Toll Plaza and other main roads leading into Lantau Island. Around 50 officers in riot gear conducted searches, which resulted in a queue of buses appearing shortly after 11am.

Mr. Cheung, a passenger on an airport-bound bus who was searched by police, told HKFP that he and three other friends were headed to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge.

“The police said they were looking for offensive weapons, and also checked our ID cards,” he said, adding that he felt his group was targeted because they were young.

“It is the right of Hongkongers to go to the airport… Even if [protesters] say they want to paralyse the airport, if they just stand there and don’t do anything violent, that is still a freedom they should have.”

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Riot police search buses that pass through the Lantau Link Toll Plaza. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Another passenger who worked for an airline said she left home ahead of time in anticipation of delays, but still thought the policing efforts were excessive.

“I disagree with people who say it is martial law, but the police presence is still very disruptive,” she said.

A bailiff read out the contents of a court injunction warning people not to disrupt airport operations, while airport staff also read the document out loud to people at bus stops, telling them to leave.

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A bailiff reads the injunction at the airport.

Last month, the Airport Authority was granted an injunction to restrict protests at the terminal halls, and to prevent protesters from causing disruption.

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Photo: Tam Ming Keung/USP United Social Press

On social media, chat apps and the Reddit-like forum LIHKG, users urged one another not to dress in black when they go to the airport, and instead pretend to be travellers.

Clashes in Tung Chung

On Saturday afternoon, riot police were deployed in force in Tung Chung and were locked in a tense standoff with local residents.

Large crowds shouted “triads” and other abuse and slogans at police outside the Fu Tung housing estate. Officers later displayed the red warning flag indicating they may use force.

The Citygate Outlets mall and two exits of Tung Chung MTR station were briefly closed.

Officers also faced allegations of excessive force after they arrested a young woman, who was seen being struck in the head as she was trying to climb a flight of stairs.

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Riot police subdue and arrest a young woman in Tung Chung.

Meanwhile, protesters on Saturday also targeted some malls owned by the MTR Corporation for “window shopping” and sit-in protests. Crowds numbering in a few dozen appeared at Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay and Citylink Plaza in Shatin.

The Hong Kong rail operator has been accused of colluding with the police and hiding the truth of what happened at Prince Edward MTR station on August 31, when riot police stormed the platform and assaulted passengers with pepper spray and batons.

Since June, large-scale peaceful protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy and alleged police brutality.

Demonstrations continued into the night in Kowloon, with riot police dispersing protesters from Nathan Road.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.