Hong Kong protests approach border of mainland China

Protesters stand at an intersection during clashes with riot police after taking part in a rally Saturday against Chinese parallel importers in the Sheung Shui district, in the New Territories in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Vivek Prakash/EPA-EFE

July 13 (UPI) — Thousands protested in a mainland China border town Saturday against China traders, riding on the momentum of weeks of extradition bill protests in Hong Kong.

The protesters who took to the streets of Sheung Shui accused “parallel traders” from China, who buy products tax-free, and sell them in mainland China for a profit, of messing up the neighborhood and the local economy by fueling inflation, driving up property prices and diluting the town’s identity.

They protested under the slogan “Reclaim Sheung Shui.”

Sheung Shui residents claimed that Chinese visitors are resulting in an influx of “grey market” pharmacies selling unregulated and potentially phony medicines from the mainland. Protesters said these pharmacies are driving up rent costs in the district and forcing other businesses to close.

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Residents also claimed that Chinese visitors have created more litter in the area.

The protest started out peacefully, but later erupted into scuffles and shouting, as protesters threw umbrellas and hardhats at police, who swung bats and fired pepper spray in retaliation.

Hong Kong protests began over a month ago over an extradition bill that could allow extraditions to mainland China, but have grown since then into a broader fight against Beijing’s influence.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam declared the extradition law “dead” earlier this week, but protesters vowed to continue with demonstrations.

Lam said in a news conference there were “doubts about the government’s sincerity,” but “the bill is dead.”

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