Hong Kong's flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, is now caught in the cross-fire of the city's pro-democracy unrest, as mainland media incite boycott campaigns against companies seen to be backing the protesters.
A #BoycottCathayPacific thread on Weibo has attracted more than 17 million views and 8,000 comments, partly fuelled by articles from the powerful state-run press.
"The four sins of Cathay Pacific Airlines," read a headline this week in the People's Daily, as it detailed actions by the carrier and its staff that were perceived as being supportive of the pro-democracy movement.
Some of Cathay's air crew have joined protests and one of its pilots has been charged with rioting.
The airline's flight attendants' union also put its name to a joint statement with other aviation industry employees on Monday backing the protesters and accusing the government of ignoring the demands of the people.
A post published by the Communist Party Youth League on its official social media accounts said "Cathay Pacific Airlines has repeatedly appeared in Hong Kong's unrest, and plays a disgraceful role".
Cathay chairman John Slosar on Wednesday defended his workforce and freedom of thought.
"We employ 27,000 staff in Hong Kong doing all sorts of different jobs," Slosar said at a press conference following the release of company results which showed the protests had impacted passenger numbers in July.
"You would easily imagine that within that 27,000 we have virtually every opinion on every issue... we certainly wouldn't dream of telling them what they have to think about something."
Boycott campaigns have been building up alongside signs of growing anger by Beijing authorities against the protesters, with Taiwanese tea house Yifang and popular Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat also feeling online fury. (AFP)
Cathay Pacific latest target of mainland boycotts
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