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Protesters occupy Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Monday. Photo by Laurel Chor/EPA-EFE


Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A day after thousands of protesters brought the Hong Kong airport to a standstill, hundreds of flights were canceled Tuesday as China accuses the United States of working to undermine the island's stability.

More than 170 arrival flights and all late afternoon departures were canceled, stranding hundreds of passengers at the airport for a second day. Officials said they wouldn't allow any check-ins after 4:30 p.m. for departing flights. Check-ins before then were allowed to proceed, as were all incoming flights for the rest of the day.

The airport canceled all flights Mondayas thousands of protesters submerged the airport into chaos as they demonstrated against police brutality and a controversial extradition bill for a fourth straight day.

"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."

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lamwarned Tuesdaythe situation on the island was threatening to push "Hong Kong into an abyss."

"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."

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"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 that Beijing's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. "This is a gross violation of the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong."

Violent protests last weekendinvolved both police and demonstrators and led to multiple injuries, including a woman who said she lost sightin one eye after she was shot by police with a bean bag.

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.

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"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 ina 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 McConnelltweetedlate 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."

The United States has largely supported the ongoing protests, despite President Donald Trumphas characterized them as a "riot."

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.