• Fri
  • Aug 1, 2014
  • Updated: 6:51pm
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

ohyeahar
Here’s an idea that’s far-fetched:
Establish certain weeks of the year where the land borders are closed to tourists. These would be weeks that are adjacent to HK public holidays.

Just imagine that. Families in HK would actually be able to visit interesting places during the holidays within our own city. People can take their kids to Ocean Park. We can ride the 360 cable car. We could take leisurely strolls at TST. These are all supposedly enjoyable activities but are made not pleasurable due to the ridiculous numbers of mainland tourists.
Camel
Just imagine that families in Hk would actually found NO Disney Land and NO Ocean Park during the holidays as those two theme park went bankrupt long time ago because of lack of visitors. Ocean Park was on the brinck of closing down when it wasn't for the Mainlanders. Disney Land since the opening has been making loss and loss. They can only pay their bill because of the Mainland tourists.
lucifer
As it is, Disneyland HK can only scrape off $30 milling in profit, while Tokyo Disneyland makes hundreds of mill;ions of dollars annually. Now they are building one in Shanghai, so you can expect more people to take the easier trip there. There had better be a plan B to all of this, because when it subsides quickly, and there is not another plan, then we in HK will have a crisis to deal with. Focusing on a broader spectrum of tourists from around the world, who actually eat in nice restaurants and frequent entertainment venues is the more sustainable approach.
Eddy_hey@yahoo.com
Who wants Disneyland. It was a joke, plus a shame of Hong Kong. Com'ON Camel, do you know how the contract was signed between Disney and HKgov.??
gracetodd
It's actually a workable idea! Really like it!
likingming
Both the Ocean Park and the Disney would go bankrupt when mainlanders don't come.
ohyeahar
I’m sure they would. But I’m not talking about cutting off the mainland tourists completely. Just for maybe 2 months in a year. And if they still go bankrupt, then so be it. Tear it all down and build more housing because that’s what HK needs.
tom@fastmedia.com.hk
True, foreign buyers are snapping up properties in London, NYC, Vancouver et el. But unlike in Hong Kong, the governments and big corporations of these places are not mollycoddling and kowtowing to moneyed foreign visitors to an extent that the interest and basic livelihood of the local citizens are grossly affected.
Think the Dolce & Gabana photo ban brawl in 2012, think how the police allegedly turned a blind eye to baby formula smugglers from the mainland in Sheung Shui before a cross-border limit was set, think how many age-old shops in Central, Causeway Bay et al that used to be the haunts of locals have been replaced by shops in recent years selling luxury things that only the rich mainlanders can afford, think the new hotel that's going to be built on the tranquil Lugard Road on the Peak. The list goes on.
honger
Of course some people are not thankful and do not grasp the fact that the mainland only needs to turn off its water supply - besides not lending a hand when crisis strike - to Hong Kong to punish us if they want to.
Do these demonstrators use water everyday? Where does it come from?
For that matter, who are their ancestors?
yellow_lynx_cat
You know what, Hong Kong pays a premium per cubic meter for the water supply, and the money goes to a listed company, which formed a big part of its income. Hong Kong can get cheaper water by desalination like Singapore at a fraction of the cost per cubic meter we pay for the water!

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