On Sunday, January 27, residents in the Hong Kong border town of Sheung Shui came out to protest against the influx of border-crossing shoppers from the Chinese Mainland, also known as daigou.
According to a report by South China Morning Post, residents in the town have noticed a severe uptick in foot and road traffic since new visa laws were introduced in September 2018, which have allowed mainland residents to apply for visas to Hong Kong from their city of residence, rather than their hometown as registered in their hukou.
Sheung Shui, a town in Hong Kong's New Territories, sits just one station from border crossings at Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu. Protests in the town against daigou have been ongoing since 2012, with cross-border shoppers accused of driving up prices of local goods.
Also, included in the report are figures which show that the number of pharmacies in the town has increased by more than 33 percent over the past year, to 133.
On Sunday, there were calls for visa laws to be changed, with some local politicians saying that mainland visitors should only be allowed to visit Hong Kong eight times a year, while others claimed that the number should be scaled back to just once per year.
Conflicting political parties clashed over the protest, with Chan Ching-sum of the pro-Beijing Care Hong Kong Power party saying that protestors were stirring up cross-border issues.
As of January 1, 2019, new laws were introduced in order to crack down on people crossing the border to buy goods and transport them back to the Chinese Mainland for sale at a profit. Cross-border shoppers are now required to register their businesses both in China and their shopping destination, and must pay taxes on their sales. While daigou have built independent businesses based on cheaper products bought from duty-free stores, these new tax laws will likely drive the price of their products up.
Meanwhile, Caixin reported earlier this month that daigou are becoming more creative in their sales tactics as a means to bypassing these new laws, using cyphers and hand-made drawings to inform buyers of the products that they have for sale.
[Cover image via Pixabay]