Cathay Pacific CEO and CCCO stand down after Hong Kong protests fallout

Chinese soldiers walk in formation on the grounds of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre in Shenzhen across the bay from Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg resigns

Any Cathay employee who is found to have taken part in the anti-government protests is banned from operating those flights.

As the city nears its eleventh consecutive week of protests sparked by the government's now-suspended extradition bill, police have been accused of using heavy-handed tactics to quell unrest - such as deploying rubber bullets and around 2,000 rounds of tear gas. This week protesters effectively closed the city's airport on two successive days, disrupting tens of thousands of travellers and posing a practical problem to any company considering launching a deal road show in Hong Kong.

The airline also said Paul Loo has resigned as chief customer and commercial officer, to be replaced by the head of its low-priced arm Hong Kong Express, Ronald Lam.

The SCMP pointedly noted that Hogg's replacement, Augustus Tang Kin-wing, is a Chinese national, unlike the British-born Hogg.

The United States has warned China against involving its military and said it would potentially hit the country's economy hard because Hong Kong is so important.

Earlier this week, the airline was ordered by Beijing's aviation authorities to suspend staff that supported what China claims are illegal protests in Hong Kong.

"These have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company".

Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-Shing, urged people to "love China, love Hong Kong and love yourself" in newspaper advertisements that marked his first comments on the crisis.

"[We] keep going on even though the pressure is very high to stop and give up, because everything feels so hopeless", said the 37-year-old Belgian native who has lived in Hong Kong for 14 years. "I am confident in the future of Hong Kong as the key aviation hub in Asia", Hogg said in a statement on Friday. Tang was previously the head of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), which is owned by Swire Pacific Ltd, as is Cathay. After the rallies, protesters had occupied multiple districts in acts of civil disobedience against a local government that continued to avoid dialogue over the protesters' demands.

"We all feel tensions are building and the level of stress is increasing", one front-line protester, Pun, 22, told Reuters during a sit-in at the worldwide airport earlier in the week.

Around 3,000 people marched peacefully through the streets of Sydney on Saturday to call for an end to the violence which has gripped China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) in recent weeks.

Hong Kong also does not have an extradition law with either mainland China or Macau - another former colony under Portuguese rule until 1999.

Among banners that said "Protect Hong Kong, fight against violence", One of the group's leader Tony Jiang, who is an Australia citizen of Chinese descent, told Xinhua "We came here to stand against the violent riots and the decaying law and order in Hong Kong".

Shares of Cathay, which trade in Hong Kong, finished the day up about 2% following the news.

Cathay's board cited "recent events" and said there was nothing that shareholders need to be made aware of.

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