• Sat
  • Oct 25, 2014
  • Updated: 1:03am
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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This article is now closed to comments

jgmoreno
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. The extraordinary shallowness of Mr. Lo's analysis and absurdity of his comparisons is what baffles me the most....
romneyng
Many world-class cities - think Tokyo, New York, London, Rome, Barcelona - accomodate tens of millions of tourists a year and never considered imposing any curbs on tourism. Not only do tourists bring in significant economic benefits, they are a conduit for promoting a city's image. Sure, tourists often cause disturbances to the citizens' lives - be it loud noises, drunks, heavy traffic, increased real estate prices, but those citizens don't resort to despicable behaviours like hurling vitriols at people whose only crimes are trying to spend their hard-earned money and having a good time abroad.
Judging by the actions of those 100-odd bigots, Hong Kong is not worthy of the name "World-Class city". It was a sad day for Hong Kong.
keithkklau@gmail.com
An article with narrow perspective and does not take into account how general public feels towards mainland tourism. There are too many tourists coming to Hong Kong not for tourism, but just come here to buy daily necessities or smuggle. They have changed the ways local people are living and the influx is simply "too much". We should welcome China tourists as our economy needs them particularly those landlords. But the key question is whether HK has the capacity to cope with 50 million China tourists? If not at this moment, it is reasonable to ask the government to reduce the mainland tourist or else the growing discontent in the public is laying a time-bomb for the already weak CY administration.
honger
Some of the posts here, no doubt, are from the group or their supporters. Because freedom of speech is practiced in this paper, their comments are still printed. Can we expect the same if they were in control? Would differing views be deleted/shouted down?
As for desalinating our water vs the current supply from China, those ingrates choose not to remember HK's costly experiment with desalination.
Of course, they missed the whole point about who they really are - a mixed-up bunch of bullies of Chinese descent waving the Union Jack humilating their own race and creed. The UK would not touch them with a barge pole...........
lcheg@me.com
Come on, lets be serious please. This is an awful opinion piece at best.
1. Comparing unification of China and HK with the process in Germany is ridiculous. HK is a rich, prosperous territory, that was and is well organized, has a developed civil society and is comparatively small. Thanking China for a smooth, cheap reunification is just silly. You should thank HK for being such a place that allow it to happen. Also HK was just fine before the unification so to say it is a PILLAR of the economy is incorrect.
2. The issue is a practical one - a territory the size and as densely packed as HK simply CAN NOT take the influx of visitors that it currently does, be them Chinese or from wherever. It causes quality of life of HK to deteriorate hugely, from prices, to the types of shops, to sheer density of people, to saturation of services, to house prices etc etc. Its just a fact and EVERY HK person I know feels that same. It benefits a few, BUT is a burden for the VAST majority.
The general idea that Hk should take any level of visitors is impractical and WILL back fire and cause it to turn into an anti-mainlander issue, when really its simply a common sense logistical one.
Endlessly pushing the "fear argument" that HK depends so heavy on china and the "Nation Argument" that HK can't limit Mainlander presence or activities here as its Anti chinese, is VERY dangerous and disingenuous and will back fire causing very real tension in the future.
Its a practical issue
honger
"......is VERY dangerous and disingenuous and will back fire causing very real tension in the future.
So, are you threatening to extend your verbal insults and harassment to physical violence?
mymak
I thought the demonstration was shocking and disgusting. Ordinary people being subjected to abuse while on holiday. Ordinary people with families, young children being frightened by bullies.
I thought that was bad enough, but what I have read in these comment columns in the last two days leaves me fearing for the sanity and future of Hong Kong people. I hope that those commenting here truly don't reflect the majority. It's Ok to dislike having large numbers of tourists but it is not Ok to be so isolationist, fearful and prejudiced against outsiders. Actually, if those from the Mainland were foreigners then it would be racism. It has all the hallmarks of racism - fear, bullying, intimidation of a majority over a minority, stereotyping of supposed bad behaviour, stories about supposed bad behaviour by Mainlanders followed by "but most Mainlanders are well behaved", type phrases.
Can we not treat the issue of how many tourists we can handle as a society and the 'racism' as two separate issues.
In that case I would like to express my apologies to all those who suffered as a result of the xenophobic protest on Sunday. As one who has a family and goes to the Mainland and Overseas on holiday I empathise with you. It was disgraceful and I am sorry that it happened to you.
druwong123
Trust Alex to take aim at the obvious and not see the real issue - the Hong Kong government at whom the fury should have been directed for running such a bad show.
For anyone who protested against the mainlanders it would be easy to just ask them what they would have done if they lived in a country where the milk powder is poisoned and luxury goods highly taxed. I believe even Ms. Lam would see the point before she can finishing saying "WTF".
The real issue here is why our government did such a bad job of minimising the mainlanders' disruption to our way of life, when it is so easy to predict what the mainlanders would do in Hong Kong, given what they are not allowed to do in China.
And the ministers have the nerve to criticise the protesters?
Time to point out who should really be held accountable, no? If they continue to get away with doing such a half-assed job, things have no chance of improving in Hong Kong. Sure enough, sooner or later, no mainlander would be interested to come here.
honger
Ms Alpais Lam hurled abuse at a policeman in the Fa Lun Gong fracas near the Star Ferry terminal in TST not too long ago, right? People like her are full of hate for the establishment and whatever cause that gives them an opportunity to vent their pent-up hatred. They are serial troublemakers intent on destroying the peace in our city.
They did what they did because the mainlanders were of the same race, whom they regard as lower class than themselves. They would not dare try this on any other race. This atypical behavior of Hong Kongers is found among a small minority who glorify foreigners ( the Union Jack and colonial rule, Western style democracy, etc) but put down their own creed and race at every opportunity, citing democracy and freedom of speech to further their assault.
artdig18
Thanks Alex a good reminder of how lucky we are as compared to what could have happened

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