Growing anti-mainland sentiment in the city may be partly due to the failure of both the central and Hong Kong governments to tackle local concerns over cross-border integration in a timely way, an outgoing delegate to the national legislature says.
Ko Po-ling, 64, will step down as a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress after 10 years. She will continue to serve as vice-chairwoman of the Yau Tsim Mong District Council.
Ko called on the mainland to do more in promoting good citizenship among its people, in particular integrity, to boost Hongkongers' sense of belonging as Chinese citizens.
"The strong resistance to mainlanders could be due to [Hongkongers'] lack of understanding of the mainland and cultural differences," she said. "Locals also feel some mainlanders have seized their resources and affected their livelihoods.
"The two governments have failed to address some of the new problems in a timely manner, while letting other problems go unnoticed" for some time.
The emergence of parallel-goods trading was an example, Ko said. She attributed it partly to mainland authorities' failure in improving their food safety standards to meet increasing awareness of the issue among the population nowadays.
This, she said, might push up demand and prices for goods sold in Hong Kong that were of higher quality.
Ko also blamed local law enforcers for dragging their feet over the massing of parallel exporters. In a recent Chinese University poll, only 12.6 per cent of 819 respondents considered themselves solely Chinese, the lowest in the past 15 years. "The mainland … should raise the quality of its people, including their integrity, as this would affect Hongkongers' trust in them," Ko said.
Locals should, in turn, understand that despite the shortcomings of the mainland, wrongdoings such as tainted and fake food were just as unacceptable to Beijing, she said.
Recalling her NPC work in the past decade, Ko said she had tried to improve mainland law on labour contracts by on-site visits.
She also convinced mainland authorities that both Hong Kong and mainland customs and immigration officers should share facilities at the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint, and she negotiated with mainland customs to lower taxes on jade imported from Hong Kong.