Hong Kong witnessed a fresh protest Sunday against parallel-goods traders, with several dozen people congregating at a Sha Tin shopping mall where a large number of mainlanders were snapping up Lunar New Year products and gifts.
As the demonstrators, estimated to number around 200, tried to overrun the New Town Plaza, police were forced to intervene, triggering scuffles.
Officers took out their batons and also had to use pepper spray to contain the protesters, Apple Daily reported.
It marked the second protest in a row on a Sunday against parallel-goods traders, after an earlier demonstration at Tuen Mun on Feb. 8.
It came as thousands of mainland visitors, including parallel traders, were flooding into some districts close to the border to shop for Lunar New Year products and gifts. Goods sold in Hong Kong are widely considered to be of better quality, and also cheaper in some cases.
However, locals have become increasingly resentful of the cross-border shoppers, blaming them for causing product shortages and price hikes in the city as well disrupting the daily lives of Hong Kong residents.
For a second Sunday in a row, netizens called for protests against the mainlanders.
At the protest at the New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, many people wore masks and walked through the shopping centre chanting slogans such as “Go back to China”. As some mainland shoppers shouted back, the quarrels between the two sides gradually turned physical.
With verbal warnings not working, the police used pepper spray and batons against the protesters. As the demonstrators were not deterred, most shops downed their shutters, the report said.
The scuffles lasted for several hours before the protesters began to leave at around 8 pm.
A senior police officer said six men were arrested, and that one policeman and two citizens were injured in the scuffles. Investigations, which are ongoing, may lead to more arrests, he said.
Dr. Chung Kim-wah, director of the Center for Social Policy Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the protests clearly show that unhappiness with mainland shoppers has reached a critical point in the city.
Continuing inaction of the government may trigger an escalation in the protests and undermine social order, he warned.
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