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  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 7:39am
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Protesters rally in Sheung Shui against cross-border parallel traders

Scuffles break out during rally outside Sheung Shui station against visitors from mainland, who are accused of distorting local economy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 10:47am

Fights broke out in Sheung Shui yesterday during an angry protest against cross-border parallel traders.

The protest, initiated via Facebook last week, started at 2pm, with about 50 residents in the border town gathering near an exit of Sheung Shui MTR station.

"Reclaim Sheung Shui! Protect our homes!" they chanted, echoing slogans written on the placards they were waving. They said the numbers of parallel traders buying goods in the neighbourhood and travelling through the station had been creating a nuisance for years. Parallel traders buy goods in one market to smuggle into another, where they sell them without authorisation.

The protests also drew about 300 onlookers - including some parallel traders - who stood around the station and on a footbridge.

It did not take long for clashes to break out after two young protesters held up a sign reading: "Chinese people eat s***!", together with a modified colonial-era Hong Kong flag.

While fellow protesters asked the two to put the sign away, some middle-aged men, offended by the slogan, ran at them aggressively, denouncing the pair as "Japanese". Police officers intervened to stop the scuffle.

The duo and one of the men who attacked them - believed to be a parallel trader - were taken to a police station but were later released. More scuffles took place around the MTR station, with witnesses saying a trader slapped protesters.

The MTR Corporation, which was prepared for the protest, erected a sign at the station exit requiring passengers to carry no more than one item of luggage. It put up metal barriers to prevent people from congregating near the exit, but was later forced to close it as clashes heated up.

Only a few traders attempted to carry large amounts of goods into the station, but they fled, dumping hundreds of yoghurt drinks as protesters cornered them.

A 21-year-old protester, who was sporting a sling, said his arm had been fractured last week by a parallel trader's trolley. "I have to rest for at least six weeks," said the man, who is a courier.

Others were upset about the traders obstructing roads and what they see as the replacement of local shops by pharmacies and jewellery stores which cater to the tourists. The protest will continue today at the station.

Parallel traders are most active in Sheung Shui as it is only one station from Lo Wu, on the border. They take products, including milk powder, mobile phones and cosmetics, over the border to sell on the mainland, evading tax in the process.

The protests come amid rising anger at the influx of mainland tourists and with many in Hong Kong worried about further inflation of goods and property prices. This month, public pressure forced the postponement of a plan to give 4.1 million non-permanent residents of Shenzhen easier access to Hong Kong by way of multi-entry permits.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said a joint operation with mainland authorities started a week ago at the Lo Wu border crossing and Sheung Shui railway station.

He said the number of illicit cigarettes seized had already fallen by 20 per cent and the number of travellers caught failing to declare goods by 10 per cent. The operation would last for the rest of the year, he added.

While there have been suggestions the government should restrict the number of trips allowed to multi-entry permit holders, Lai said the additional work required would lengthen the border clearing process. Such restrictions would also not stop parallel traders from Hong Kong.

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This article is now closed to comments

shouken
I really want to know how many Hongkongers will deny that they are at the same time Chinese. Whether it is 30%,50%, or 70%. However, HKU's popular opinion poll (HKUPOP) cannot help me, because of the very bad design of their very 1st question (which makes it impossible for a HKer to identify herself as BOTH a HKer and a Chinese). I can't believe my eyes when their table showed only 18-47% of respondents call themselves Hongkonger. Absurd result! Because unless they ran into unual number of tourists every time, it should be 80-90%. How disappointing a survey!
fmhung
people standing up to protect our Hong Kong from these pests. very commendable.
Camel
Your grandparents, parents were as well regarded as pests at their time?
blue
Small minded people like fmhung is why HK isn't ready for democracy.
pyklib
We should aim at creating the Republic of Hong Kong!
Camel
Even the Brits knew that Hongkong as an independent stand alone state wouldn't survive one year without the support and supply from the Mainland. That is why they returned HK Island to the mainland as well. You are dreaming if you think HK could sustain itself without help from others.
lucifer
What's a "modified colonial-era flag?" Perhaps it was supposed to represent the future flag of an independent Hong Kong….
aureolis
Mainlanders are just rife. Most of them are uneducated while the few that have bought their western education are spoilt brats or so called "little emperors" who think they have somehow evolved into a higher being in the 2 yrs abroad.
The reality is they have very little social graces and give Asians everywhere a bad name. HK is a tolerant society, but tolerance is not the issue here... It's survival.
Camel
@jeannieh
HongKong has always been a place of immigration from the Mainland. Without the influx from the Mainland especially in the modern times, this City would be still a fisher village. However, the trend is going in other directions recently. Do you have an idea how many Hongkongers have emigrated from HK to other western states since 1992 and never come back (with Hongkong people receiving finally a passport for travelling without visa and the possibility to immigrate to other states)? Hong Kong would be only or merely half crowded today and the economy rock bottom. And without Beijing's primery and artificial hold-on on Hongkong as the financial hub in Asia, Shanghai would already have taken the place one decade ago. They are still complaining about this in Beijing that Beijing is still choosing HK over Shanghai for only domestic reasons. Without seeing it, you are most likely going to kick away the fundamental base under your own feet, what keeps you alive in this city. But of course, if you an middle class Hongkong citizen you can still choose to emigrate to Canada, Britain or the US when the city is going down.
jeannieh
this action comes a bit late, but better than never. The mainlanders have been destroying the economy of Hong Kong. The government turns a blind eye, stating how business blooms due to arrival of these people. Only a few, mostly those big enterprises benefit from it. The ordinary people close down their business like corner stores, neighbourhood shops who cater to the not too rich families. Now people are forced to shop at expensive supermarkets or shops in big shopping malls. It's so sad our government is subservient to Beijing adopting their policy similar to Tibet: Let more Han Chinese into Tibet to suppress & destroy the Tibetan culture. Where is 1 country 2 syatems?

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