Protests, virus kill businesses on HK border

26-May-2020 Intellasia | Reuters | 6:02 AM Print This Post

David So’s Romantic Cat cosmetic shop, was a business that was once thrivingwith hordes of mainland Chinese shoppers known as “parallel traders”who would travel over the border to Hong Kong to stock up on make-up, milk powder and pharmaceuticals, to then sell back in China at a profit.

But business has come to a halt at the border town Sheung Shui, as the land border has closed due to the pandemic.

“Our business has dropped 70-80 percent. We’ve seen some others in the same industry close shop, and nearly half of the shops (here) have all closed.”

So is a Hong Konger, born before Hong Kong’s return to mainland China in 1997, and grew up believing the city had its own autonomy.

But with pro-democracy protests and anti-China protests continuing since last year, with the most recent on Sunday (May 24), shops like So’sthat cater to Chinese shoppershave been caught in the crosshairs.

There’s been smashed storefronts, graffiti and harassment. His shop has been directly damaged.

“Seeing some of these businesses targeted, vandalised, it’s quite complicated for me. I hope the protesters can see clearly that their target is the regime, this government, but not the businesses.”

Despite protesters vandalising shops, So says he supports the movement.

“Hong Kong ruled by Hong Kongers, it’s what I grew up with. Till now I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the handover to China. But since this year, society has changed dramatically.”

He believes it’s up to the city’s government to maintain a balance between limiting the number of mainland traders and allowing businesses like his to flourish.

Over the years the prices of rent have been pushed up, fuelling anger among locals.

But with no clear date for when the border will reopen, So is looking at the problem head on-and believes he may have to diversify.

“Hong Kong people at the end of day are very special, ‘be like water’. If this place doesn’t work we will go elsewhere. We’re very adaptable.”


Category: Hong Kong

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