Anti-trader protest drives wedge between HK, mainland

By Su Tan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-2 23:48:01

Wide attention will be given to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in the coming two weeks. He said last week that he would submit a proposal to the central government intended to limit the number of Chinese mainland visitors to Hong Kong under the Individual Visit Scheme when he attends the upcoming annual sessions of the National People's Congress. But just before his departure for Beijing, the third anti-mainland traders protest took place on Sunday, this time in Yuen Long in Hong Kong's New Territories.

The demonstration, organized by two radical groups, was called "Redeeming Yuen Long with valiance against violence," but apparently the slogan was not upheld by local residents. On the contrary, clashes were provoked between protesters and locals who thought the protest hobbled their regular business and life and was actually intended to propagandize the independence of Hong Kong.

Parallel-goods traders should be strictly dealt with on any occasion, but it is unacceptable if this is used as an excuse for illegitimate intentions and attempts to disrupt Hong Kong's stability and its relationship with the mainland.

Recently, a post has been widely circulated on mainland social media requesting that the mainland halt its regular supplies of fresh water, electricity and agricultural products to Hong Kong. While irrational, this message indicates that the protests against the mainland shoppers and parallel-goods traders in recent weeks have incited disappointment and resentment among mainlanders.

Consequently, this will intensify the confrontation between people in Hong Kong and the mainland while doing nothing to facilitate addressing the problems. During the Spring Festival holidays, the number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong dropped by 0.16 percent for the first time in nearly two decades.

Hong Kong and the mainland need each other. It is estimated that more than 40 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong last year, the lion's share of visitors to the region which has a population of 7 million population. This may have indeed posed challenges to Hong Kong's accommodation capacity.

Hong Kong delegates will reportedly make proposals about the Individual Visit Scheme and there will be discussions during the annual legislative meetings about limiting the number of mainland visitors. Whatever adjustments may be made to the scheme will be a technical and natural response to problems emerging when policies are carried out. It is by no means a gesture of yielding to Hong Kong protesters.

Hong Kong authorities need to come up with measures to develop tourism facilities. Hongkongers should keep vigilant to those who attempt to advertise rhetoric of Hong Kong independence by blaming mainland shoppers and traders and prevent evil-minded people from making implications for the region.

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