The influx of parallel traders who buy their stock tax-free in Hong Kong to resell it in mainland China at a profit is causing growing unrest. Residents of Sheung Shui, a town close to China's border, say the increase in parallel importers has pushed up retail prices and causes a general nuisance. Importers argue that their trade benefits the Hong Kong economy.
Over 90 arrested in parallel trading blitz near border
Five are Hongkongers suspected of recruiting mainlanders; HK$700,000 of goods seized
More than 90 people were arrested on suspicion of parallel trading in a crackdown near the border with Shenzhen yesterday.
Of the arrests, 54 men and 40 women, aged between 18 and 64, were mainlanders and five men were from Hong kong.
They were arrested near Sheung Shui and Fanling MTR stations, where traders were allegedly distributing goods, said senior superintendent Terry Wong Kin-wah of New Territories North regional police headquarters.
Eighty-eight people were arrested on suspicion of breaching their conditions of stay, while six were held for theft as they could not explain where all the goods they were carrying had come from. Wong said the five Hongkongers were suspected to have recruited the mainlanders.
All 99 people arrested were detained last night.
The authorities also seized HK$700,000 worth of goods including mobile phones, tablet computers and everyday items, as well as two trucks.
Some 200 officers from the police, Immigration Department, Customs and Excise Department, and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department were involved in the operation.
"We will trace the source of the seized goods which might be linked to criminal offences such as theft, handling stolen goods, smuggling, or employing illegal workers," Wong said.
It was the biggest number of arrests since September 19, when authorities began a series of high-profile operations aimed at stamping out parallel trading near the border.
Police and immigration officers on September 19 arrested 130 mainland suspects from parallel trading hotspot the Advanced Technology Centre in Sheung Shui.
The crackdown began after the government promised to tackle what residents see as an increasing nuisance in the area.
In recent months there have been calls from lawmakers and the public for measures on the mainland side to limit the number of times Shenzhen residents can cross the Hong Kong border in a day in an effort to clamp down on parallel trading.
But last week Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin said there was no plan to limit multiple entries to Hong Kong.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok meanwhile said that only 40 per cent of parallel traders were mainlanders, so the multiple-entry permit scheme should not be changed.