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Hong Kong protesters take aim at Chinese traders

13 July 2019

Major demonstrations in the past month against a proposal to change extradition laws have reawakened other movements in Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam this week said the bill was "dead" after having suspended it last month, but opponents are demanding a formal withdrawal.

Hundreds of police patrolled nearby streets as protesters chanted demands in Mandarin, China's official language, for the traders to go home.

The protest in Sheung Shui, not far from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, started peacefully but devolved into skirmishes, with demonstrators throwing umbrellas and hard hats at police who retaliated by swinging batons and firing pepper spray.

"We can not find the word "dead" in any of the laws in Hong Kong or in any legal proceedings in the Legislative Council", protest leaders Jimmy Sham and Bonnie Leung said in statements in English and Cantonese. Some protesters took their anger out on a Bank of China branch, which they spray-painted, while others besieged a medicine shop, which was forced to close. (AP/AAP) Protesters took part in the rally as part of continuing protests against a proposed extradition law, and to highlight the local issue of Chinese parallel importers who buy products in Sheung Shui tax-free, and sell them for a profit in mainland China.

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The anti-government protests have evolved since the extradition bill was temporarily shelved.

The small-time mainland traders have always been a source of anger among some in Hong Kong who argue they have fuelled inflation, dodged taxes, diluted the town's identity, and caused a spike in property prices. "We want to ask Carrie Lam, when are you going to speak the truth?"

When Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, Chinese Communist leaders promised the city a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Police then raised red warning flags to order protesters to leave immediately.

Hong Kong media mogul and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai met with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence this week over the extradition bill, while singer-activist Denise Ho gave a speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council on suppression of rights and freedom in Hong Kong and called on it to eject China as a member.

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"We want to raise awareness in Washington that the United States has to do more now to help Hong Kong become fully democratic", said a resident of the nearby town of Fanling, who was one of five people in the crowd carrying USA flags. Beijing-appointed Lam, who is not directly elected, and her government haven't acted in the people's interest, he said. Some of the women receive tips from older men.

Last Saturday, almost 2,000 people marched in the residential district of Tuen Mun to protest against middle-aged mainland women they accused of brashly singing and dancing to pop songs in Mandarin, which many locals considered a nuisance.

Sheung Shui boasts dozens of pharmacies and cosmetic stores that are hugely popular with mainland merchants who snap up goods in Hong Kong - where there is no sales tax - and resell them across the border.

"If political problems are not solved, social well-being issues will continue to emerge endlessly".

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Hong Kong protesters take aim at Chinese traders