Chinese troops last week amassed at the Hong Kong border, sparking concerns Beijing could enact martial law, leading to a citywide strike that ended up in the cancellation of more than 200 flights.
"Independence for Hong Kong is not viable in the near term", acknowledged protester Sam, 23, a barrister, while music pumped from cabaret lounges in Wan Chai's bar district behind him, "But we have to fight for our freedoms and democracy".
Protesters staged the flash protests in lieu of organized, legal marches after police took the highly unusual step of denying permits, saying they would invite violence. In what has become an established pattern, groups of protesters have taken over streets or besieged government buildings after largely peaceful marches and rallies earlier in the day.
Police have arrested more than 600 people since the protests started more than two months ago.
There are now fears that police will attempt to clear the thousands of people who have gathered inside the airport. "I didn't realize it would reach this type of magnitude", said university student Meagan Scantlebury.
Riot police also deployed tear gas and rubber bullets inside Kwai Fong metro station.
Hong Kong has seen nine weeks of protests with no end in sight.
Eve Lui (呂天忻), who represents Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegations, said Taiwan has witnessed how Hong Kong has fallen from a free and democratic state into an undemocratic one since 1997.
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The demonstration of specially equipped armoured cars came after another weekend of protests at Hong Kong's bustling worldwide airport and on the streets of one of the city's main shopping districts.
The phrase, popularized by legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, speaks to the ability to adapt oneself to fast-changing situations.
While China is Hong Kong's most important trading partner, the city is an global business and financial hub, and the economy is already showing signs of hurting as a result of the protests.
Similar exchanges ensued late into the summer night.
A woman waves a British flag during a demonstration at Hong Kong airport.
Unlike in previous demonstrations, protesters Monday were filling both the arrivals hall and departures, as airport officials struggled to keep operations running smoothly even as the crowds remained largely cooperative.
The carrier will also be required to submit a plan for boosting internal controls, flight safety and security by Aug 15, CAAC said.
Several thousand people gathered on Monday for a fourth day of protest against a proposed extradition law at Hong Kong's busy worldwide airport.
The aviation authority said it had issued a major aviation safety risk warning to Hong Kong-based Cathay for failing to take appropriate action.