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Hong Kong Protest Against Mainland Chinese Traders Turns Violent

EntertainmentHong Kong Protest Against Mainland Chinese Traders Turns Violent

HONG KONG — Several thousand demonstrators gathered in the streets of a Hong Kong border town on Saturday to protest against mainland Chinese traders, the latest effort by local activists to ride the momentum of recent mass protests in the city.

What began as a peaceful protest on Saturday in Sheung Shui, an area of Hong Kong close to the border with mainland China, devolved into clashes between demonstrators armed with umbrellas and police wielding batons, pepper spray and shields.

Many of the protesters were residents angry with the vast numbers of so-called “parallel traders” who come across the border from the mainland to buy items like baby formula and diapers for resale at a markup in China to evade import taxes. Local residents say the retail boom has pushed up commercial rents and forced businesses aimed at residents to relocate or close.

In recent weeks, some protesters have voiced concerns that the movement’s growing demands could impact their ability to channel public support and sustain momentum. But on Saturday, several residents said that the disparate demands were in fact related to a single issue.

That nativist tone was evident once again at Saturday’s protest which, compared to the previous protests in the city’s main financial district, drew a smaller, mostly local crowd.

“I want to tell those people who trade parallel goods that we Hong Kong people actually do not like what they’ve been doing, and that they have invaded our daily life and affected Hong Kong,” said Cecilia Hui, 26, a resident of Sheung Shui.

Other protesters, however, sought to keep the focus on the larger movement. Many more people are expected to turn out on Sunday for a planned protest in Sha Tin in Hong Kong’s New Territories region.

“We have asked the government for a response, but every time they refuse to give a solid response,” said Karina Chan, 33. “That’s why we have kept up these protests and these peaceful actions — to let the public know that we still have the patience to wait for the government to respond.”

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