• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:25am
Chinese tourists
CommentInsight & Opinion

Protests targeting mainland Chinese visitors put Hong Kong to shame

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 4:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:07am

Yet another demonstration against mainlanders has ended in scuffles. Unlike the protests targeting parallel-goods traders in Sheung Shui last year, mainland tourists at high-end shops were the victims this time. The participants in Sunday's protest hurled abuse at Putonghua-speaking shoppers on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and clashed with activists who countered with a campaign of welcome for the visitors. Such uncivilised behaviour is to be condemned. Not only does it deviate from Hong Kong's culture of peaceful demonstration, it also adds to cross-border tension, undermines business and tarnishes the city's image.

The protesters were upset by the government's claim that the city could cope with an annual 100 million visitors, the majority of them mainlanders, by 2030. While their frustration is probably shared by many locals who feel the city is already overrun by visitors, few would condone taking things to such extremes. The protesters insulted the shoppers as locusts from Shina - a word with Sanskrit roots that has gained a derogatory meaning due to its usage during Japan's aggression in the second world war.

Such hate speech would be considered unlawful elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Hong Kong. Although discrimination on the grounds of race is already outlawed here, such remarks might not count, because the locals and mainlanders are both Chinese. This is not to suggest the government should go further to tighten the law. The protesters are in the minority. The strong response from different sectors shows the protest is not endorsed by the community. It was also denounced by three government ministers yesterday.

That said, the incident speaks volumes for the negative feelings some locals have towards mainlanders. It would be dangerous if the tension continues to grow. The protesters vowed to stage more campaigns if the government fails to tackle the problems arising from an influx of mainland tourists.

Clearly, the public remains unconvinced about the city's capacity to take in more tourists. Some politicians went further, demanding a border-arrival tax - an ill-conceived idea that serves no purpose other than to appease the masses. It is difficult to administer and goes against the city's image as a welcoming place for visitors. Tourists will go elsewhere if they are not happy with their travelling experience. The government must ensure the city has the facilities to cope with the demand.

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14

This article is now closed to comments

honger
Shouting abuse and using clearly racist words should be an offence whether or not it is hurled at someone of the same race/nationality/color. In this case, it is Hongkongers vs mainlanders - a clear divide as drawn by the abusive demonstrators themselves. These people - whose parents or grandparents were from the mainland not too long ago - are only insulting themselves when they shout the racial obscenities. But this does not negate the damage done to others - the mainlanders, the shops, and the rest of Hongkong for their shameful and unlawful acts..
If this had happened in Oxford Street or in front of Harrods/Galleries Lafayette, the demonstrators would be hauled off by police immediately and sued by the shops. I suggest the government tighten the laws to put an end to such behaviour. Surely they could be arrested for harassment and obstructing peace.
Also, it is time to terminate Ms Alpais' services to stop her from poisoning her students' minds and behaviour.
hk.sistercat
In fact, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Causeway Bay are places Hong Kong people now avoided because of so many mainland tourists. Local small shops are forced out of businesses because the demand for shops serving mainlanders are driving rents up. Hong Kong, a small place less than a hundredth the size of Taiwan, took in more than 40 times more tourists from the mainland daily (Taiwan 4000, Hong Kong 160,000). The Government likes it because it is a no-brainer for them to boost GDP. The Government stopped drawing out strategy for economy development in different facets because increasing tourists into Hong Kong is so much easier (to them).
wingchi1000
I think I prefer to those tourists who genuinely come to Hong Kong for traveling, not those parallel traders who buy up all our commodities. Dear ministers, you don’t need to take the public transportation, have you ever noticed that the commuters who need to take the crammed railways and buses? Have you understood those parents unable to buy milk powder to feed their babies? You ministers always care about the advantage of tourism, rather than addressing the impact on our lives. Would you ministers address this problem by controlling the multiple-visa mainlanders? please try to empathize with the feeling of Hong Kongers!
Camel
There is just a few words what describes the whole situation. Either the Way, "Hong Kong is doomed." Those protesters had been to long raised like a little dogs of the British and who can blame them if they are acting like British Dogs now and teach their own offsprings samelike.
johnh
@honger
"If this had happened in Oxford Street or in front of Harrods/Galleries Lafayette, the demonstrators would be hauled off by police immediately and sued by the shops"
-Those places you're comparing Hong Kong to are DEMOCRACIES. And they're not under constant threat of an Authoritarian Communist regime. They have FAR more representation than we do. Closed mouths don't get fed.
bolshoi
To me it is quite obvious that these 100 or so individuals are brainless and/or jobless bigots who have nothing better to do on a Sunday. Their frustration is written all over their idiotic faces.
Eddy_hey@yahoo.com
To me it is quite obvious that the comment is ignorant and/or idling moral police whose arguments have no substances. His/her superiority is written all over the St. Shining face.
pslhk
Why your editorial observation:
“Such hate speech would be considered unlawful elsewhere.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Hong Kong”
-
Given the same set of laws in
any jurisdictions with self-respect
regardless common or civil law system
those hate instigators and egomaniac bigots
can be convicted under dozens of rules and statutes
-
HK’s so-called rule of law and judicial independence
are nothing if not colonially castrated look-alike practice
laws for lawyers laws’ main beneficiaries and protector
laws to serve the letters and not to apply letters to serve society
scmp04
Well said. The Eilte Ministers do not take public transport. Their drivers and limousines are waiting with the engine running.
homing
While accusing others it will be wise to take out evidence of your claims.

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