China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang in May 2013 acknowledged that "uncivilised behaviour" by its citizens abroad was harming the country's image. He cited "talking loudly in public places, jaywalking, spitting and wilfully carving characters on items in scenic zones". Destination countries have been easing visa restrictions to attract more tourists from China, but reports have emerged of complaints about etiquette.
'Patriotic' protest leaves mainland Chinese visitors bemused
Demonstrators dressed as Red Guards urge mainlanders to spend their cash at home
Revolutionary music blared through the streets of Causeway Bay yesterday as dozens of people dressed in Red Guard uniforms staged a tongue-in-cheek protest against the influx of mainland visitors to Hong Kong.
Waving national flags and copies of Mao's "little red book" outside the Sogo department store on Hennessy Road, the protesters sarcastically chanted: "Love the motherland; use made-in-China products!"
The organisers, a radical anti-Beijing group called The Faculty of Orchid Gardening, said the purpose of yesterday's event was to "liberate Causeway Bay" by urging the visitors to "be patriotic" and return to the mainland for their shopping.
"Coming to Hong Kong to buy foreign goods is treachery," group chairman Barry Ma shouted on stage.
"They come here to buy foreign-branded milk powder, sanitary pads and even condoms … We are being patriotic by buying our outfits from Taobao and our HK$25 plimsolls, which are all made in China."
The event was one of several Sunday protests in recent months against the impact of mainland visitors on the city.
Last month, scores of protesters marched through Tsim Sha Tsui demanding the government curb mainland visitors. Demonstrators hurled abuse at mainland shoppers and briefly clashed with passers-by.
Yesterday's chanting drew curious looks from bemused mainland visitors in the popular shopping district, many of whom were duped into thinking that the Hong Kong protesters were serious.
One Zhejiang man visiting the city for the first time took pictures of yesterday's protest with interest and said he thought it was a pro-Beijing rally.
When told the protest was a spoof and that their demands included restricting the number of mainlanders allowed to visit, he dismissed the suggestions as "absurd".
"Perhaps Hong Kong is so rich now that it doesn't care about earning any more renminbi," he said. "There should be no limit as long as the [visitors] abide by the law in Hong Kong."
A scuffle nearly broke out between the protesters and two angry mainland visitors who berated the Hongkongers for being "crazy".
Meanwhile, across the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui, the pro-mainland Hong Kong Justice Alliance handed out badges and leaflets welcoming mainland visitors to the city.
"We call on Hongkongers to stand united, like bumblebees," said alliance convenor Leticia Lee See-yin, in reference to the bee symbol which the group has adopted. "We won't be barbarians."
The Tourism Board has estimated that Hong Kong will receive 45.1 million visitors from the mainland this year.