• Wed
  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
Chinese tourists

Shenzhen shoppers ready to accept limits on visits to Hong Kong

Special economic zone residents express understanding of worries over tourist influx, even though they can make unlimited trips now

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 5:22am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2014, 11:56am

Whenever Liu Huilan and her friends in Shenzhen need retail therapy, household essentials or even just a girls' night out, there's no question where they'll go - Hong Kong.

They love it so much that, one summer two years ago, she and five friends set up an online chat group called "Have fun and buy soy sauce in Hong Kong". "Buying soy sauce" is a slang term for shopping in the city.

"Almost all the daily necessities we use at home are from Hong Kong," explains Liu, 32. "When any of us uses up her lipstick or cooking oil, she will call for a partner in the chat group. Then two or three in the group will … go with her to Hong Kong and shop that afternoon or night."

They spend between HK$600 and HK$1,000 on each trip.

But all that might change if restrictions are imposed. There have been reports that the Hong Kong government will reduce the number of trips that Shenzhen multiple-entry permit holders can make to the city. At the moment they can make any number of visits.

Currently about 2.5 million mainlanders in Shenzhen are eligible for multiple-entry permits. Some 1.2 million have obtained such permits, of which 30,000 to 50,000 are said to be working as parallel-goods traders, who buy up goods in Hong Kong and sell them on the mainland.

Hong Kong residents near the border, particularly along the railway line in North District, as well as in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, have complained that parallel-goods trading depletes supplies, pushes up prices and causes public disturbance.

Liu's group - which includes a teacher, housewife, manager and civil servant, all from middle-class households - said they had heard little about the debate on future travel limits. But if Hong Kong does impose restrictions, the women said it would be "acceptable and understandable" to keep visits to at least once a week.

Sunny Tao, a yacht salesman who needs to take clients to Hong Kong frequently, agreed. "Once per day would be much safer for people like me whose companies have a strong connection with Hong Kong."

Both Liu and Tao said they would not mind measures primarily aimed at parallel-goods traders, adding they shared Hongkongers' disdain for the activity.

"I'm quite unhappy when I see traders crowded at the checkpoint and in trains," Liu said.

The two biggest incentives are that products in Hong Kong are cheaper but higher in quality. Liu said the saving they made on shopping was worth the journey - which costs, by train, HK$20 from Shenzhen to Sheung Shui.

Liu estimates that Hong Kong goods are at least 20 per cent cheaper than in Shenzhen.

"Of course [travel restrictions would] give Hong Kong a bad reputation for not welcoming Shenzhen neighbours," Liu said.

"But it would not have that big an [impact] if we can still go to Hong Kong once or twice a week. My friends seldom travel to Hong Kong more than two times a week," she said.


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After having worked in HK, Shanghai and Guangzhou for so many years I just want to share one observation but I am sure I will be scolded at this forum but I have never given a damn about political correctness. It seems that many people in HK simply cannot let go of the fact that back in the 1980s and 90s they were looked upon as the big spenders by many mainland Chinese and felt privileged whenever they crossed the border. In those days someone earning a few thousand HK dollars in HK would see themselves as king back in China. Remember those days when we call people "ah chen"? Yet the role has now been reversed and people in HK simply cannot accept the fact that many mainland Chinese have now become the big spenders in HK. The more I look at it the more it feels like sour grape. But fortunately I just got an offer at a position in Singapore so as far as HK is comcerned.....just let this city live in its past glory......farewell yesterday city.....
The fact of the matter is that they don't trust produced in Mainland products to be safe. So, they go to Hong Kong to buy imported oil, shampoo or whatever......the only problem is retailers base their inventory on the consumption of Hong Kong'ers and can not reliably predict how many Mainlanders will shop for daily necessities. So we have gone from luxury goods to cooking oil? That does not say much for China, but worse, it pretty much guarantees that locals are going to be fighting for such products and the high demand will inevitably cause price inflation.
That was the issue with the baby formula as well. The Producers had no idea how much to send to Hong Kong, because their estimates of Hong Kong's birth rate and infant formula need never seemed to be adequate. Who knows how many Mainlanders will come and clean out the shops?
Just across the border there are tens of millions of people....the sad fact is, there is so much resistance to these restrictions because the influx of Mainlanders is a stepping stone in the grad plan for the forced integration of Hong Kong ion Mainland China. Changing the numbers or imposing limits sets that plan backward. We are supposed to be getting used to seeing Mainlanders everywhere all the time....
By all means come over to shop, have a good time. Leave those screaming brats at home particularly the ones that need their little buggies or babycarriers. They cause a lot of obstruction and annoyance.
Sounds the limit won't bother the genuine travellers but also will lead to a much more pleasant environment for the genuine travellers and the crew working at the border check points. Let's go ahead implementing the new measure!
I am baffled the topic as " Shenzhen shoppers ready to accept limits on visits to Hong Kong"
So what if they don't ACCEPT the inevitable? Are they going to form a mob and lay siege to the city? What is there to accept or not to accept? Do they have a choice? Do we actually care about their feelings? what a stupid article to begin with.
Despite the fact that mainlanders have spent a lot in HK, apparently most of the Hkers do not really give a damn regarding the consumer expenditures. Ur 'observation' completely ignores that fact that the vast majority of hk people are disturbed by those mainlanders in many ways such as their livelihood, where the local people have to bear the inflated prices due to high consumption and demand by mainlanders. I'm currently not living in HK and I never felt what you have said with respect to the past glory in 1980s. I simply dislike the attitude and the unlimited number of mainland visitors, in which they consider themselves as 'KING' when consuming in HK. With all these negative consequences, these consumptions only contribute approximately 3-5% to HK's overall GDP. So why'd HK people feel 'sour grape'? Kongshan2047, I am pretty sure there is still a big room to improve your observational skills. Cheers
After some thirty yeas Hong Kong will be totally ‘integrated’ with mainland China – ready or not. The reality is that it is not going to happen overnight like the hangover. The integration obviously has been taken place since the very moment when Prince Charles sailed out of the Victoria Harbor that evening after the handover. China or Hong Kong all can’t afford to wait till the last minute to make a switch again.
My concern is how to integrate so to be less problematic in the process. I am sure if bringing all the mainlanders to Hong Kong is not intentional on the part of central government to arouse resentment. It is a misguided policy that miscalculated the overcapacity problem.
From my perspective, integration needn’t be all taking place in Hong Kong. Strangely it can take place in Shenzhen as well. Since Hong Kong has a higher living standard it is more desirable even for mainland China leadership to let China to catch up with Hong Kong. Shenzhen can’t be more desirable for integrating with Hong Kong incrementally without shaking the rest of China.
I think the rush to integrate solely on Hong Kong soil has proven so far a headache and not a happy experience. It is quite unproductive from the objective it wants to achieve. Find a path of least resistance to achieve integration is a wise policy.
Clearly it is ineffective if the multiple entry permits is not set lower sufficiently for those who shop in Hong Kong from Shenzhen. Hong Kong still would face the same crowding if not even more as time goes by when the permits cover more individual.
I am not so sure of the shopper’s claim that the price in Hong Kong is cheaper than in Shenzhen as one of the motive for shopping in Hong Kong. For ordinary citizens their primary interest is to get safer goods and by paying more. For these people they may be doing a little resale on the side for their friends and neighbors to cover expanses.
I suggest for these shoppers and consumers the two governments – Hong Kong and Shenzhen to work out a condition that allows a special economic zone at the border where shoppers could shop Hong Kong goods without the need in crossing the border. It should satisfy the shoppers from Shenzhen and retailers from Hong Kong who would own the operation.
Sure such idea can’t fly if Shenzhen side can’t quiet down the present parallel-goods traders. I am sure they are politically powerful as a group. But we can overcome them if the central government steps in to get the special economic zone going within the already special economic zone.
Probably it will since it is one way in integrating Hong Kong’s economy in a small way as it may be but with great peaceful mission for Hong Kong.
Yes but Hong Kong declares itself and open port and Asia's World City so meet the challenge


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