Last week, airline Cathay Pacific told its staff it would not stop them joining the pro-democracy demonstrations currently sweeping Hong Kong.

But this week, faced with pressure from the Chinese government and a huge backlash on Chinese social media, it quickly changed its position, warning that any staff involved would be fired.

So, why did the carrier perform a U-turn so quickly?

Cathay, an icon of Hong Kong, is heavily dependent on the Chinese market, which leaves it in a weak spot when it comes to standing up to Beijing.

Fuelled by China’s state-run press, a boycott campaign on social media – using the hashtag #BoycottCathayPacific – has attracted more than 17 million views.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the airline admitted it had no option but to comply

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