Parallel trading

Fresh clashes in New Territories protest against parallel traders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 February, 2015, 3:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 February, 2015, 5:43pm

Clashes erupted in the New Territories for the second Sunday in a row yesterday as a shopping mall was overrun by anti-parallel trading protesters.

Police were repeatedly forced to intervene, wrestling protesters to the ground, drawings batons and unleashing pepper spray. But a series of arrests led to demonstrators confronting officers, hurling abuse such as "black police" and other insults.

For a second week, after protests erupted in Tuen Mun last Sunday, the colonial-era flag was waved at the protest. One demonstrator waving the flag was aged just 13.

Police last night said six men were arrested for offences including assaulting police, disorder in a public place, obstructing police and common assault. Three people, including an officer, were injured, police said. They later said more arrests may follow.

Trouble flared after more than 100 young protesters marched from the Sha Tin MTR station through the New Town Plaza, chanting "mainlanders go back to the mainland" and telling mainlanders to "drink their own milk powder".

As demonstrators advanced, shops rolled down their shutters - many with customers still inside - and escalators were stopped.

One local, who gave her name as J.Chan, 29, said she resented mainlanders.

"The situation is bad here. Sha Tin has become a parallel trading heaven," said Chan, who grew up in the district but moved away a year ago.

"I once saw a mainlander just casually having a meal of siu mei [Chinese barbecue snacks] in a shopping mall nursing room. They have no manners and no culture."

Mainlanders and parallel traders were berated by demonstrators, with some reacting angrily by giving protesters the middle finger.

"I don't understand what they are saying [in Cantonese] but this is crazy, I don't know why they are so violent," said a mainland tourist from Hangzhou . "I have only come to buy gifts for the Lunar New Year ... I guess I won't spend so much here in the future."

Tensions rose as sporadic clashes erupted between protesters, police and even shoppers. Some mall-goers were so angry about the protests that scuffles broke out with those marching.

A spokesman for one of the activist groups at the protest, HK Indigenous, which had coorganised last week's Tuen Mun rally that led to more than a dozen arrests, said the Sha Tin event was spontaneous.

"We are not here to cause trouble. We are here merely to see how this [parallel trading] activity is affecting Hongkongers' lives," he said, adding one member of the group was arrested yesterday "without reason" .

Police confirmed they had arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace a 21-year-old man, surnamed Wong, in Tseung Kwan O in connection with last Sunday's Tuen Mun protest.

Additional reporting by Samuel Chan