Beijing has acknowledged that mainland parallel traders are causing trouble to Hong Kong people, and vowed to take action against them.
State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Director Zhang Mao said mainland visitors to the territory who engage in the illegal trade are also hurting the interest of the legitimate trading firms and upsetting the market order in China, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Zhang’s remarks, which branded parallel goods trading as an inappropriate form of competition, came in the wake of vigorous protests against parallel traders in various parts of Hong Kong.
The SAIC chief said parallel traders speculate on the price differences between Hong Kong and the mainland and circumvent customs regulations.
In Hong Kong, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok condemned the violence used by anti-parallel trade protesters on Sunday, likening their behavior to that of rioters who abuse their freedom of expression. Lai said police will launch an in-depth investigation.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang urged both the Hong Kong and mainland governments to look into the problems created by parallel trading, while stressing that no violence should be tolerated during protests.
Political commentator Johnny Lau said mainland officials who speak out against parallel traders is a sign that the central government is aware of the seriousness of the issue.
Beijing’s approach to the problem, namely looking at the solo visit scheme and parallel trading as two separate issues, appears to be a smarter move than Hong Kong government’s tendency to consider the individual travel program as the reason behind the rise in parallel trading, Lau said.
He noted that the mainland government has no reservations in hitting out at parallel traders because half of the people engaged in the activity are actually from Hong Kong.
It’s inaccurate and unfair for protesters to equate mainlanders with parallel traders, Lau said, adding the protesters have simply gone too far.
Six people were arrested after clashes broke out between police and protesters against parallel traders in Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun and Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday.
Three of those arrested were reportedly secondary school students, while two are studying in universities.
Former Security chief Ambrose Lee has suggested that tariffs be levied for goods passing the Lowu and Shenzhen Bay border control points to deprive parallel traders of their profit margins.
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