Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is said to have hit out at Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo, accusing her of being one of the initiators of the campaign against mainland Chinese visitors.
The criticism came as Leung met with some pro-establishment groups Sunday at his official residence, according to a Ming Pao Daily News report Monday.
Leung told his guests at the closed-door meeting that the central government will not tighten policies on mainlander visits to Hong Kong or delay the approval process, the report said.
Unhappy with the protests in Hong Kong, Beijing apparently wants to send a message that it will not bow to pressure tactics and that the protests would, in fact, be counter-productive.
Leung, meanwhile, is said to have expressed concern that mainland tourist traffic to Hong Kong had fallen in the first two months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, in contrast to the situation in Macau.
In March 2014, Mo had staged a protest near the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, calling for some limits in relation to the Individual Visit Scheme for mainlanders and to terminate the multiple-travel visa arrangements.
Asked about Leung’s latest reported comments, Mo said the chief executive was attempting to divert public attention from the real issues.
Leung seems to suggest that the solo visit scheme and parallel traders are not issues of concern for the public, the lawmaker said.
She said she had been merely reflecting public opinion, and that she would feel proud if her protest had contributed to a drop in mainland visitors to Hong Kong.
The comments came as efforts were underway in Hong Kong to construct a new shopping center near the border to cater to mainland visitors.
Adam Kwok, executive director, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, confirmed Sunday that his firm will team up with Henderson Land to offer a land plot at a nominal fee of HK$1 for construction of a new border shopping facility, the report said.
Kwok said he hopes the new facility will be operational before October 1 and alleviate the problems caused by mainland shoppers and parallel traders elsewhere in the city.
The actual operation and management of the facility will be handled by a third party, he said.
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