Beijing's top man in Hong Kong says people should not 'make a fuss' about conflicts between city residents and mainlanders, which are inevitable given the large number of tourists arriving.
The remarks by Dr Peng Qinghua, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, came a day after chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying expressed reservations about the city's ability to accommodate more mainland travellers, dampening hopes that the individual visitor scheme would be expanded.
In an interview with Xinhua, Peng said 'conflicts and tensions' between Hong Kong and mainland people - which he did not specify - had their 'objective causes'.
'[People] need not make a fuss about them,' he said.
He cited the different legal systems, historical backgrounds, different stages of economic development and the impact of a huge number of visitors from the mainland as factors contributing to conflicts. He said respect was needed to minimise such conflicts.
'Given such a large-scale exchange of people, it is inevitable for there to be some clashes,' Xinhua quoted Peng as saying. 'These clashes and tensions are by no means the mainstream form of exchanges between the two places.'
Leung said on Wednesday that the influx of tourists had contributed to inflated prices and 'disruption of livelihoods' of people living close to the border. Leung was apparently referring to incidents such as runs on baby formula and other products in high demand across the border.
Leung said Beijing had made the correct decision not to expand the individual visitor scheme during the past five years.
Meanwhile, Dr Ko Wing-man, tipped to be the next secretary for food and health, echoed the remarks of incumbent Dr York Chow Yat-ngok in saying people should not have unreasonable expectations of the new administration.
'Every policy area involves different stakeholders, whose various expectations usually conflict in some way,' Ko said. 'So if you expect the new government to 100 per cent satisfy the desires of all stakeholders, then most people will agree that this is not realistic.'