Loving welcome for mainland Chinese tourists in Causeway Bay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 5:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 1:12pm

It may not have been music to the ears of the city's resident shoppers, but pro-government group Voice of Loving Hong Kong wasn't aiming its Putonghua folk songs and flag display at them yesterday.

About a dozen members of the group chose Paterson Street, in bustling Causeway Bay, to hoist national and SAR flags, and blast music - to welcome mainland visitors.

It was the third such event in response to two rallies in the past two weeks aimed at doing exactly the opposite.

But there were complaints from a neighbouring and unrelated community event outside the Hang Lung Centre, put on by Wan Chai District Council. Youngsters trying to strut their stuff on the small stage were apparently unimpressed by the golden oldies competing with their Western dance tunes.

But the group did get signatures on a petition, stating that Hongkongers and mainlanders share the same roots and all visitors should be welcomed.

And what did mainland visitors make of all this? Some wondered what all the fuss was about.

"I don't feel any hostility. Most Hong Kong people I meet are kindhearted. Our hotelier was of great help," said Shenzhen resident Li Xiu, 27, who has visited the city six times.

"There's a lot of people here, but it's still acceptable. In Shenzhen, people are pushed out of train carriages during peak hour," she said.

Two weeks ago, about 100 protesters shouted abuse at mainland visitors on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. They were condemned by top officials for "tarnishing the city's image".

A second protest in Mong Kok the following week drew a much smaller number.

But a similar rally is planned for Sha Tin today, with more than 400 Facebook users signed up to take suitcases to the New Town Plaza, mocking mainland visitors who come to the city to shop.

The flare-up of anti-mainland sentiment was triggered by the government's prediction that Hong Kong will see 100 million visitors per year within a decade.

In response, the Equal Opportunities Commission has said anti-discrimination laws could be expanded to protect mainlanders against abuse.

Patrick Ko Tat-pun, convenor of the Voice of Loving Hong Kong, said: "We shouldn't scold the visitors. They are innocent. What we must to do is ask the government to improve infrastructure and build attractions."

Yesterday's event was the third organised by the group to "welcome visitors" - it held one in Tsim Sha Tsui and one in Mong Kok in response to the anti-mainlander protests. It aims to collect 3,000 signatures on its petition, to present to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.