Dozens of activists led a protest in Tung Chung on Sunday, reporting illegal mainland tour guides who arrived with tourists via the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
On the third Sunday since the mega-bridge opened, more than 86,000 passenger trips were made in both directions across the bridge. The high influx of visitors has sparked complaints from residents, with local community group Tung Chung Future launching a “reclaim Tung Chung” action group to report illegal tour groups.
Legally, mainland tour guides must be accompanied by a local liaison in Hong Kong, but some mainland guides have been leading tour groups alone. Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing previously urged the police to arrest illegal guides.
Wong Chun-yeung, the Tung Chung group’s leader, displayed large banners that read “report illegal tour guide” at around 2:30pm on Sunday outside the Citygate shopping mall. The police sent more than 100 officers to the scene.
The group urged tourists sitting outside shops to leave, and asked mainland tour guides to show their licences. Police took away suspected illegal tour guides for investigation.
Wong also took aim at tourists sitting on steps in front of shops: “I hope you can follow civilised rules – just stand up and it’s fine, thank you.” Wong said that his actions remained verbal.
A tourist from Zhongshan said there was no mainland tour guide when they entered Hong Kong: “We have four hours of free time to walk by ourselves.”
Some residents thanked Wong for his efforts, according to a video posted by Apple Daily. “Thank you. If not for you guys, it would be impossible for us to live here,” one female resident told Wong as she hugged him. “We Tung Chung residents support young people to come out to help.”
Wong said he will continue with similar action, albeit with a lower profile. He said the government should limit the number of mainland tourists, and warned that diverting them to other areas will not solve the problem.
“I am concerned it will only spark ‘reclaim’ actions in each area,” he said.
Wong also criticised Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Holden Chow, also a Tung Chung district councillor, for “betraying Tung Chung people” after he supported the construction of the bridge.
A 72-year-old woman was arrested after grabbing a man’s phone, which he was using to take photos of the protest. A 59-year-old man was arrested for a separate case of common assault.
A dozen members of the pro-Beijing group “Treasure Group” launched a counter-protest in Tung Chung urging residents to welcome mainland tourists, since Hongkongers and mainland people are “compatriots.”
New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip arrived on the scene at around 3pm saying that she received complaints that the “Treasure Group” was too loud. She urged them to lower the volume.
“Reclaim” action activists asked to have a conversation with Ip, but she did not respond. Ip was escorted away by dozens of police officers.