Hong Kong protesters target mainland shoppers in latest wave of protests

Vastavam web: Hong Kong protesters are set to rally for a second day on Sunday in an area popular with mainland Chinese shoppers as anger over the government’s handling of an extradition bill revives other grievances, such as an influx of cross-border visitors. On Saturday, a largely peaceful demonstration in a town close to the Chinese border turned violent as protesters hurled umbrellas and hardhats at police, who retaliated by swinging batons and firing pepper spray.

The protests are the latest in a wave of demonstrations that have rocked the former British colony for more than a month, fuelling its biggest political crisis since China re-gained control of the territory in 1997.

Critics see the now-suspended bill as a threat to the rule of law in the Asian financial hub. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the bill is “dead”, but opponents say they will settle for nothing short of its formal withdrawal. Beijing denies interfering in Hong Kong affairs, but many residents are concerned about what they see as a relentless march toward mainland control.

Sunday’s demonstration is targeted at mainland Chinese tourists in the town of Sha Tin, in the so-called New Territories between Hong Kong island and the border with China. The town has previously been a battleground for Hong Kong people angry over the flood of Chinese day-trippers. The government condemned violent acts during the protests on Saturday against so-called “parallel traders” from the mainland who buy bulk quantities of goods in Hong Kong which they then carry into China to sell for a profit.

In the past 18 months the government arrested 126 mainland visitors suspected of contravening their conditions of stay by being involved in parallel trading, it said.