• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:54am
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

likingming
I would like to know how Macau, a city one-fifth the size of HK and one-tenth the population, to cope with the mainlander tourists.
Camel
For a short moment just imagine, Mainland China would from now on just ignore HK, taking away all the support, stop tourist to come to HK and put their attention to Shenzhen, Qinghai, Zhuhai and of course Shanghai. Hong Kong is doomed and broken within 5 years and those 100 protesters will be the first one on a plane to the country of their second passport. (including those ignorants below who claims that HK will do well without Mainland support. lol).
Giwaffe
Sounds like a good challenge. Past history would suggest Hong Kong would prevail.
lucifer
"Mainland China would from now on just ignore HK, taking away all the support, stop tourist to come to HK"
Are you stating that without Mainland tourists, HK would die? Are you forgetting we did that for the better part of 100 years? This would actually be the best case scenario. A competent HK government could then focus attention on real, sustainable, economic development and ditch this idea of a giant China shopping mall as a long-term plan.
321manu
I think Mr. Lo is confusing his logic. If "the main point is a moral one", then indeed you can argue on that basis that Chinese citizens should have freedom of movement within China. But the Asian/global financial crisis and SARS are not moral issues as it pertains to HK.
At the same time, there are still 2 systems. So the HK situation is unique, and cannot directly be compared to the rights of PRC citizens to go anywhere else in China. If you believe in 2 systems, then HK has the right to impose restrictions on mainlander travel that is not available to other Chinese cities.
1C/2S is a package deal. Mr. Lo can't choose to embrace one part, and ignore the other...as much as he'd seemingly like to do.
jgmoreno
This gentleman is completely out of touch with the vast majority of Hong Hongers. And the shallowness of his analysis and arguments also suggests he doesn't put much thought into what he is writing about.
scmpbeijing2
"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."
Really? Didn't sars originate in the mainland the the continued denials by the mainland there was a crisis increase the cases in Hong Kong?
ssslmcs01
Let's talk about morals,
Amongst the 100s of thousands of visitors there are thousands of individuals who are packing large sums of money into Hong Kong from questionable sources in a effort to hide it or divert it elsewhere. This is against the core values of Hong Kong society.
And your arguement doesn't make a lot of sense as it is only natural that people will become defensive when their standard of living is threatened. It is ridiculous that you can expect people to become paupers to show patriotism or to say that you aren't discriminating against others.
And where did you get the idea we are "all" Chinese. More than 30% of Hong Kong people hold a passport other than an SAR passport.
And after reading the stats and taking a quick survey it is difficult to believe that most Hong Kong people are willing to be referred to as Chinese at all so what does "one China" have to do with us embracing large numbers of visitors from north of the border?
For a senior writer at a world class newspaper, you sure don't seem to put much thought into what you are writing about. And your opinion often appears to be of little value even to seondary school students.
rpasea
Alex: pls take a stroll around the Peak on any Sunday afternoon and tell us if you still feel the same way.
tom@fastmedia.com.hk
This columnist says: "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."
What a myopic view. A lack of bloodshed is not a guarantee for a better life. People from the mainland may have brought in lots of cash since the handover, but a large chunk of the money has gone to those luxury brands they patronise, big corporations, property developers et al, whereas ordinary folks are facing ever soaring property prices. Meanwhile, HK's Gini Coefficient rose to 0.537 in 2011 to 0.525 in 2001 (1986: 0.453; 1991: 0.476), the highest ever since records began in the 1970s. I doubt the old ladies pushing tray carts on the street would say they feel lucky to have had a "peaceful" handover.
The anti-mainland tourist protest was set against the backdrop of all these, plus many other factors not cited here. Of course, these local guys were raucous, rowdy and a bit silly. But they did what they did because they saw the bigger picture, unlike this columnist.
When you are close-minded, myopic and ignorant, you end up writing such a commentary.

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