Mainlanders welcome

Mainlanders welcome

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A rally in Tsim Sha Tsui demanded a limit on the number of mainland visitors.
A rally in Tsim Sha Tsui demanded a limit on the number of mainland visitors.
Photo: Felix Wong

I don't like travelling around Hong Kong. I was on the MTR one day when I met a menacing figure who seemed to have a severe addiction to Louis Vuitton bags. She was flaunting a fake leather suitcase just large enough to fit two cans of milk powder. As I pinned my eyes on her gold-plated glasses, her lips parted, revealing teeth tainted in an extraordinary colour comparable to that of her dark Versace-branded heels.

We are all familiar with this character - the stereotypical visitor from the mainland. Retailers, real estate agents and restaurateurs love them. They bring in big money. As for the average Hong Konger, not so much. There are reasons we might dislike mainlanders, but not one of them is strong enough for us to take action against them - unless you happen to be one of the 100 or fewer individuals who rallied against those who are flooding the city with their large stashes of money in tow.

Ronald Leung Kam-shing, organiser of the anti-mainlander protests, claims he doesn't hate mainlanders, just "some of their behaviour".

Sure, mainlanders are rather rude, but so are we. We live in a world where the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. No one really cares about how they treat other people any more.

We Hongkongers are just as impolite as, if not more impolite than, the mainlanders. We hurl vulgar insults, choosing a slur that likens them to insects. But the true insects who are hurting Hong Kong are the ones who claim to be defending the city from a "Communist invasion".

Although the protesters were not well-mannered, they did have one valid point.

It is true that "Asia's World City" has a limited amount of space and resources, and is unable to handle the 54 million visitors who arrive at its borders each year.

In fact, that number is predicted to rise to 100 million by 2023, an influx considered to be manageable by Jack So Chak-kwong, head of the Economic Development Commission's task force on tourism.

It is blindingly obvious that Hong Kong is not and will not be able to cope with that many tourists. We desperately need a limit on the number of inbound visitors from the mainland.

That said, however bad the flood of mainland tourists may seem, we still cannot deny that Hong Kong cannot survive independently. It would have been impossible for us to make it through the financial crises over the past decade without the assistance of the central government and the tourists who visit us. We, too, are citizens of China, and the mainland tourists have every right to be here. We have to respect that fact.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Mainlanders welcome

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