• Wed
  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 6:28am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 4:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:17am

Hongkongers should see the bigger picture on mainland Chinese visitors

When you are narrow-minded, mean-spirited and ignorant, you end up being one of those 100 or so people rallying in Tsim Sha Tsui against mainland visitors.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I have heard all the arguments about how mainland visitors don't benefit the average Hongkonger, only those in property, retail and high-end services. They push up housing costs, pricing locals out of the property market.

On the last point, you see something similar in London, New York, Singapore, Vancouver among other major world cities; that is, foreign buyers going into the local property market driven by the tide of central-bank-induced liquidity and low borrowing costs during the financial crisis. That is the kind of foreign or outsiders' buying you would expect to see in such an economic environment. The government's anti-property- speculation measures, whether you agree with them or not, have cooled such buying.

But the main point is a moral one. If you believe in one China and that we are all Chinese citizens, then mainland visitors have every right to be here. It is also very hard to deny that, without the mainland, Hong Kong would have fared much worse during the Asian financial crisis, the Sars outbreak and the global financial crisis.

We don't know how lucky we have been when it comes to unification. Not only has the handover been bloodless and peaceful, it has become a pillar of our economic foundation. Most other peoples and countries have had to pay a far heavier price. By one estimate, German reunification has cost that nation two trillion euros over 20 years. Between two and three million Vietnamese died during the Vietnam war that led to the country's unification.

If and when North Korea collapses, is there any doubt the South will have to foot the bill, including integrating North Koreans into normal society?

But these are countries and so are not comparable to a city like Hong Kong, you say. Well, the size of our population and economy is bigger than many full states around the world.

Sure, we fret and complain about our streets and public facilities being crowded by visitors. But we could have a lot worse to whine about than Prada-wearing mainlanders.

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321manu
As always, in order for a comparison to be legitimate, it has to be comparing things that are actually comparable. Some people still fail at the most basic things, it seems.
Taiwan is not comparable to HK in any way/shape/form. It's not a land crossing. It's not a day-trip destination for milk powder. Last I checked, it's slightly bigger than HK, so overcrowding is less of an issue. As an entity, it is also entirely self-governing, with no expiration date to same. Besides, i don't think most people would visit Taiwan expressly thinking that it's part of China. If "HK is part of China (as in officially it is), but not really (in that you can avail yourself to many things in HK that you can't in China)", then Taiwan is simply 'not really part of China'.
Did you just compare Hawaii with HK? LOL. Surf's up, buddy. Time to hang ten and get a clue.
There probably are HK tourists in Shanghai. Are they present in the same way that mainlanders are present in HK? Perhaps you forgot to incorporate scale into your comparisons.
You know what, West Berliners are probably pleased about the fall of the wall. West Germans, on the other hand, I would be less certain about. Note also that West Germany taking in East Germans is again of a slightly different scale than HK taking in mainlanders. Note also that it was the West German political system that prevailed, which, based on HK's difficulty in determining how to run its own election, will not be the case for HKers.
pslhk
People in Hainan and Taiwan
would find the arcane comment funny
if told that their popularity as tourist destinations
is because “it's part of China, but also not really”
Native Hawaiians may ask the same question:
“When the mainland tourists stop coming”(?),
that will mean (their islands have become totally mainlandized?
Are there Cantonese tourists in Shanghai?
I’d wonder if W Berliners ever yearn
“for the good ol' days of being overrun”
by politically curious tourists of the pre 89 era
ramesses
"We don't know how lucky we have been when it comes to unification." Think twice next time you make this statement. I wonder what you would say if HK took up wholesale the political, legal and personal practices of our fellow mainland citizens. You might regret it but I know I have been very lucky to have been born under the Lion Rock.
321manu
The large number of tourists can be a bit of a double-edged sword. However, HK is popular because it's part of China, but also not really. When the mainland tourists stop coming, that will mean HK has become totally China (with all that that entails). If that day comes to pass, I wonder if Hker's will be yearning for the good ol' days of being overrun by mainland tourists.
Giwaffe
According to government statistics there were 22.4 million tourists in the first seven months of 2013 of which 74.6% were mainlanders.

1. For a city as small as Hong Kong, 22.4 million tourists seems quite excessive. Sure New York, London, and Tokyo would host more tourists, but they are massive in comparison to Hong Kong.

2. Correct me if I am wrong, but it strains credulity that tourism by origin country to such cities as New York, London, and Tokyo would exceed over 70%. If anything, the high number of tourists from the mainland are crowding out tourists from other countries. Diversification and balance of incoming tourists is a good way to ensure sustainable levels of tourism, to afford a good experience for incoming tourists (of any origin country), and to maintain a high quality of life for people who live in Hong Kong.

3. As some commentators have noted, it is simply a matter of practicality. On many levels, Hong Kong's infrastructure is overloaded. It is nothing unusual for governments to enact remedial regulation, such as imposing a quota on the number of or a fee on incoming mainland tourists, to ensure that infrastructure is not overloaded and to ensure diversification of tourists.
lucifer
"f you believe in one China and that we are all Chinese citizens, then mainland visitors have every right to be here."
ummm...that's not what the Basic Law says and that is not what was negotiated with the CCP government in China. Let's also not forget that many Hong Kong permanent resident are not Chinese nationals and thus buy into that mantra even less.
Where you are losing this argument is your failure to see Mainland tourists as a drug addiction. Besides raising rents and pushing out local shop owners in favor or luxury retailers, we know two things. 1.) The addiction to Mainland tourism prevents the government from making decisions about the sustainable economic direction of the SAR, how it will employ is talented people, what kinds of businesses will find Hong Kong a good place to do business, etc., and 2.) The Mainland tourist boom is mostly just shopping sprees; the costs of imported goods is going down every year in China as the Mainland government seeks to increase consumption and abide by its trade commitments. It does jot have to go down to 0% and be a duty free port like Hong Kong. Most electronics and luxury goods are less expensive in California, which has a 9% sales tax and some import duties. It's the "hidden tax" due to the increased overhead caused by sky high rents that makes Hong Kong not the great shopping place it used to be. What did Hong Kong do before the Mainland opened? There were many, many tourists from all over.
fishfred007@gmail.com
The notion that HK rose and developed because of China's largesse is simply absurd. China's model of economic development is based on "western" methods - western only in the sense that it is the first successful experiment. Communism failed.
In the long run, Chinese economic development will depend on the development of democracy. Is it not blatantly obvious that all self sustaining developed countries share a common ingredient; democracy? The Beijing takeover of Hong Kong was a setback, not an advantage.
lucifer
Yes, and a symbiotic relationship like that, which exists between Singapore and Malaysia would have been much better. Singapore is keen to protect its own interests, economy and its people first, yet it does much trade with Malaysia, but on their own terms.
bolshoi
From recent news, one may conclude that certain Hongkongers are only capable of taking out their frustrations on domestic helpers and mainland tourists. How sickening it is, the self-proclaimed 'Asia's World City'...
shum1006@gmail.com
If you can read chinese, I sincerely ask you to read the following post.
****www.enterpr1se.info/2014/02/debunking-without-china-hong-kong-die-lie-the-reality-is-inverted/

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