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  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 10:33pm
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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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19

This article is now closed to comments

babyhenry
Your ignorance is truly incredible. The Mainlanders were the reason why there is still an economy in HK. What you think all those foreign enterprise will set up here without the mainland market and with only the HK market? and no I am not only talking about the "retail & hospitality" industries. Are you a joke or what? If you want someone to blame, blame the ones who made property the soul of the HK economy, for so many decades.
BTW you also forgot to mention the 200,000 + who are employed in the retail & hospitality industry & the ones they are supporting with their wages, are benefiting from it, but then perhaps its too hard for a someone of your caliber to comprehend.
gabyleung
Although the protesters have a point, they claim that the parallel traders block the road, and caused problems for others, but weren't the protesters producing the same problems at Shueng Shui on that day? Forcing the MTR staff to close the entrance on the bottom, directing all the people to the second floor, causing chaos. The second floor was swarming with people that were pushing and shoving, and most were mainlanders dragging trollies around. A woman with a huge trolley once ran into me and she fell over along with her things, and these "traders" often cut in line, causing a nuisance.
gabyleung
Although the protesters have a point, they claim that the parallel traders block the road, and caused problems for others, but weren't the protesters producing the same problems at Shueng Shui on that day? Forcing the MTR staff to close the entrance on the bottom, directing all the people to the second floor, causing chaos. The second floor was swarming with people that were pushing and shoving, and most were mainlanders dragging trollies around. A woman with a huge trolley once ran into me and she fell over along with her things, and these "traders" often cut in line, causing a nuisance.
ed_kwok
The whole point is that most people are worse off. These smugglers pay no tax and take over the town. Only a small minority such as supermarket owners are better off catering to these smugglers. Customs are full of excuses - they only need to tell their computer to flag a visitor who has already made a trip that day and refuse entry. Are they afraid of Hong Kong's influencial supermarket and jewelry chain owners? Customs officers will do well to remember who pays their salaries.
maria888
I try to avoid Sheung Shui statation now as fed up with having trolleys filled high with cartons of heavy goods banged into my legs. They block the lifts, don't care who they push or hurt while boarding or disembarking a train, its all about money and greed!
mercedes2233
Can anyone confirm that large sales of yoghurt drinks for example to visitors boost up its price? What buyers do with their purchases is probably not our concern?
sman
As a shop owner in NT and owning various other properties, I thank the mainlanders who have boosted economic activity (and therefore my shop rental/valuations, at a rate faster than HK inflation so I'm not affected much by it).
Of course the downside is that parking is now difficult in Sheung Shui and there are more queues/jams, plus whenever I go to places like Ocean Park I now have to put up with them barging in and queue jumping, and their penchant for slapping/attacking staff who intervene ....
jeannieh
Very very selfish!!!!!!!
sman
I was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
But at least I'm not bigoted/racist....

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