Should Hong Kong now curb the number of mainland Chinese visitors it lets in?
Anger continues to increase among Hong Kong people towards the rising number of mainland visitors coming to the city each day. The latest crackdown on parallel trading has fuelled further resentment towards mainlanders.
Last year saw a 24 per cent rise in mainland visitors coming to Hong Kong from 2010 – bringing the total figure in 2011 to 28 million. Many commentators and government officials say the huge influx of visitors has brought Hong Kong significant economic benefits. Much of the retail spending in Hong Kong is still driven by mainland consumers and this provides one of the city’s biggest sources of employment.
But not every sector of the economy is booming, new statistics show. Hong Kong retailers, for example, reported having their worst sales performance this year since 2009 – despite the increase in mainland shoppers. Some Hongkongers argue that inflationary pressures on food, rents and other items have offset many of the gains achieved by having more mainland Chinese shoppers. Others say the city is becoming more crowded with more pressure being placed on Hong Kong’s public transport system.
More than half of Hongkongers polled in a recent Chinese University survey believe the individual visitor schemes should be more strictly controlled. About 70 per cent of those polled blamed mainland visitors for rising prices. However, some 60 per cent also acknowledged that mainland visitors had helped Hong Kong’s economy.
So should Hong Kong now curb the number of mainland Chinese visitors it lets in?