Few turn up for protest in Hong Kong against mainland Chinese tourists

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 4:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 4:45am

Only about 20 people turned up yesterday for a protest against mainland tourists after a much larger demonstration last week was condemned by officials in Beijing and Hong Kong.

There was also no repeat of the rowdy scenes that broke out a week earlier during a march in Tsim Sha Tsui, although a pro-Beijing group leader was briefly besieged.

The protesters tried a new tactic yesterday - wheeling suitcases in imitation of the visitors while speaking loudly in Putonghua in Mong Kok shops popular with tourists.

But if there was any intimidation it was probably caused by the sizeable press pack, at least 40 strong, that was following events in the Sai Yeung Choi Street pedestrian zone.

About 200 people had signed up on Facebook for the protest, but most failed to materialise.

Commenting on protests targeting mainland tourists yesterday, the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr York Chow Yat-ngor, dismissed them as "pointless".

Chow said even a primary school pupil would recognise that such actions were discriminatory and did not enjoy popular support.

Unlike the protest on Canton Road last week during which some shops had to close, business was little affected yesterday.

A 14-year-old form three pupil was one of the few who admitted he was protesting at the rising numbers of mainland tourists in the city.

"It's not that we don't want mainland tourists to come, but Hong Kong should also welcome tourists from elsewhere," he said.

Koyi Chen from Guangzhou said the frustrations of Hongkongers were understandable.

"Admittedly some mainlanders do not behave so well, but tourists should not be their [protesters'] targets."

Meanwhile, the group Voice of Loving Hong Kong staged a street petition to welcome mainland tourists just blocks away from the protest. The group's chairman, Patrick Ko Tat-pun, said they would hand in signatures to Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung.

"After last week, we felt the need to do more to ensure our mainland compatriots feel they are welcome here," said Ko.

Both mainlanders and locals signed the petition.

A mainland tourist from Jiangmen in Guangdong said: "They are entitled to their views, we're used to this. But the fact is, we contribute to Hong Kong's prosperity."

Local Karen Fung said she was concerned about the protesters because the actions last week were "too extreme".

"They were definitely ruining the peace and security of Hong Kong … our economy depends on them."

Halfway through the protest, Ko somehow found himself at the scene. His presence caused a commotion with protesters hurling insults at him, telling him to "go to hell" and blocking his way after he got into a taxi. He eventually left in a police vehicle.