As the crisis in Hong Kong moves ever closer to the edge of tolerance for the Chinese mainland authorities, and a military intervention draws near, the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority has told Cathay Pacific it wants the names of anyone involved in the protests.
As the protests involve a wide range of Hong Kong society Cathay has found itself drawn in, having had a pilot and some office and cabin crew arrested during protests – on their own time.
The protests spread to the airport last week as students and others tried to make sure foreign visitors understood why they were there.
The HK authorities tried to pass a law allowing anyone to be sent to China for trial, a place notorious for its communist party controlled courts and where a fair trial doesn’t exist.
The creeping erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong is the wider picture that has drawn in the airline and expanded the protests.
The airlines owners, the Swire Group say they wouldn’t dream of telling its workers what to think, and are faced with possible action from the Chinese Civil Avaition Authority – if they don’t hand over what China sees as criminal staff.
For the moment the airline has been able to suspend the pilot and sent home the known protestors – China says none of them may fly through or into the mainland for work on the airline.
The airline is at present playing for time but with the Hong Kong government blocked from giving in to protestor demands by China and China on the cusp of a massive military suppression of Hong Kong – if it has to, the airlines are stuck between a rock and hard place. The protestors won’t stop and China won’t give in. The end can only be a bad one.