Hong Kong police pepper-spray protesters in anti-mainland march
HONG KONG–Police fired pepper spray at demonstrators in Hong Kong Sunday during a march in protest at the increasing number of visitors from mainland China.
Local residents are becoming increasingly angry at border-crossing Chinese traders, whom they say have disrupted their daily lives and clogged public transport.
The so-called parallel traders typically travel to Hong Kong by train and stock up on everything from iPads to milk powder, taking advantage of lower prices, wider choice and better quality in the city while dodging hefty tariffs on their return.
Hong Kong reverted to China in 1997 but is semi-autonomous, retaining border controls and a separate administration.
It was the latest in a string of protests over the issue in towns in Hong Kong’s New Territories, near the Chinese border.
Scuffles broke out between rival groups as demonstrators marched through the main shopping area in Yuen Long on Sunday afternoon.
Those against the march shouted: “Go back home!” to the demonstrators, while the anti-mainland groups called for traders to return to China.
One officer was surrounded by a group of protesters who hit him in the face, said an AFP photographer at the scene. It was not clear which group the attackers belonged to.
Police confirmed to AFP that officers had been injured but could not say how many or whether there had been any arrests.
It was unclear whether protesters had been injured.
Earlier this week Hong Kong’s leader said the government was considering restricting the number of Chinese tourists entering the city, following the public backlash.
The announcement came after a leading travel body said the number of mainland visitors over the Lunar New Year fell for the first time in almost 20 years–attributing the trend to the frosty reception they receive.
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