Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office joins backlash against 'locust' protest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 11:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 2:48am

The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office has joined a growing chorus of condemnation against those who organised and took part in Sunday's "anti-locust" protest in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The China News Service quoted the office as saying it "sternly opposes" any behaviour that would affect Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, obstruct Hong Kong-mainland co-operation and harm the feelings of people in both places.

The office also said, according to the service, that Hong Kong's prosperity was inseparable from the nation's development and that the individual travel scheme had boosted the city's competitiveness, its economy and social development.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also weighed into the debate yesterday, echoing sentiments expressed by four other top government officials on the protest, which called for a curb on tourists from the mainland.

Leung said: "Activities targeting tourists ... mainland or foreign … should be condemned. The government will follow up on this matter … if any illegality is found."

On Sunday about 100 protesters marched from the Star Ferry pier to Canton Road, a street lined with luxury stores popular with mainland tourists.

They called the tourists "locusts" for overwhelming the city and hogging its resources and referred to them as Shina, a derogatory term used by the Japanese against the Chinese after the first Sino-Japanese war ended in 1895.

Police intervened when scuffles broke out between the demonstrators and passers-by opposed to the march.

Protest organiser Ronald Leung Kam-shing, 37, yesterday apologised to the businesses and tourists - mainlanders and foreigners - affected by the "unexpected chaos".

"I apologise to the tourists. Some protesters went a bit radical. As the organiser … I should say sorry," he said. But he stressed he was not apologising for organising the protest, because everyone has freedom of assembly.

Meanwhile, police are investigating two alleged assault cases in which two men claimed they were slapped on Sunday. The two men, aged 23 and 32, are understood to have been among the protesters.

Additional reporting by Tanna Chong