On Sunday, February 3, a group of protestors gathered against shoppers from mainland China near the western border of Hong Kong, in the most recent display of sentiment against mainlanders that has erupted around the city.
As the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports, the protest was particularly timely since they held it on the day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, when many families go shopping just before the festivities begin.
Visitors have kept coming into the town of Tuen Mun by the busload. The town is a short distance from the Shenzhen Bay border crossing.
A handful of activists stood at the terminal of the cross-border bus, telling tourists that it’s better to shop for their CNY needs at home. The activists are from the Population Policy Concern Group, Tuen Mun Siu Tsui Concern Group, and Tuen Mun Community Network.
Their message: “Please stop coming to Hong Kong. You should go back and strive for better food safety and lower import tariffs.”
Locals consider the tourists to be a ‘nuisance’ since their presence has led to overcrowding, higher rental rates, and has been detrimental to the survival of smaller businesses.
A spokesman for one of the groups, Lance Yan Pui-lam, said, “They have brought very serious nuisance to the whole community. Only the landlords and big businesses benefit from the rising number of tourists. Common people cannot share the benefits but have to bear the negative consequences.”
The locals treat the situation as a serious problem. The SCMP reports that a convenor of the policy concern group, Roy Tam Hoi-pong, points to the number of tourists that come into Hong Kong every day.
In 2018, Hong Kong was visited by 65.1 million, an all-time high for the city. Seventy-eight percent are from mainland China, which means that 140,000 mainland Chinese arrive daily. Tam pointed out that should this number be spread out evenly across Hong Kong’s 18 districts, it would still mean that each district would receive 8,000 tourists per day.
He asked, “How do we find space to absorb all these extra people?”
The protestors ask Beijing to curb the volume of tourists from the mainland, limiting individuals to one visit within a six-month period.
While the demonstration stayed calm for the most part, two additional activists who do not belong to any of the groups joined the protest and started heckling the tourists, shouting expletives and holding up a sign saying “Hong Kong people do not welcome Chinese people.”
The sentiment against mainland Chinese visitors has made itself felt in different places in the city, especially in areas where many tourists visit, such as Tung Chung, Sheung Shui, and Kowloon City. As a result, the government is making an effort to divert tourists to other areas.