Activists deliberately planned the recent protests in Hong Kong against parallel traders to stir up enmity between Hong Kong and the mainland, a top official in Beijing said.
Their aim is to alienate people on both sides of the border from each other, said Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
Chan Wing-kee, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Standing Committee, quoted Zhang as saying after a closed-door meeting with CPPCC deputies Wednesday that problems resulting from the Individual Visit Scheme and parallel trading need to be solved in a concrete manner and should not be allowed to escalate, so that activists with ulterior motives won’t succeed.
Zhang’s comments came after a survey published Wednesday by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies showed most Hongkongers agreed the number of mainland visitors under the Individual Visit Scheme has grown beyond the city’s capacity to handle them.
Among 743 adults interviewed by phone last month, 63 percent of them expressed that view, up nearly 10 points from a similar survey in March last year.
More than six in 10 supported the idea of restricting visits under the scheme, also up nearly 10 points, and only 3.4 percent said the scheme should be expanded.
Seventy percent of the interviewees said the multiple-entry visa policy should be abolished, up nearly 7 points from a year earlier, while only 7.1 percent disagreed.
Of the respondents, 62.6 percent said individual tourists from mainland have inconvenienced them in their livelihood.
NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying said Hong Kong as an international city has the obligation to protect the safety and dignity of all tourists, including those from the mainland. The mainland and Hong Kong should walk toward the future hand in hand, like brothers, she said.
Peter Lam Kin-ngok, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and also a CPPCC member, said he is worried that revising the Individual Visit Scheme and the multiple-entry visa policy would put more pressure on a Hong Kong economy that is already in distress.
He said Hong Kong should instead consider allowing more mainland cities to join the scheme.
Lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said both the mainland and Hong Kong governments are trying to pin the present problems on Hong Kong citizens without taking effective action.
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