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23 Oct, 2015

Backlash feared: Chinese tourist dies after “forced shopping” brawl in Hong Kong

By Ku Ma

Hong Kong – (chinadaily.com.cn) 2015-10-21 — The shocking death of a mainland tourist in Hong Kong started a war of words between the mainland and the “shopping heaven”, which has climaxed in the virtual space. However, it has become a truly worrying sign in the real world.

Despite Hong Kong authorities’ quick action to detain the suspects vowing a full investigate of the fatal beating, many netizens in the mainland are advocating for a boycott of Hong Kong trips.

On Monday morning, the 54-year-old Miao Chunqi from Heilongjiang province died in the tussle sparked by “forced shopping” at a jewelry shop.

What can you do for yourself, Hong Kong

Miao Chunqi, a 54-year-old tourist from the Chinese mainland, died on Tuesday after a shopping brawl in Hong Kong.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The fight in the cyberspace caused an extreme case of reflection between some mainlanders and some Hong Kong residents.

Mainland netizens should think twice about the irrational call for a boycott as it may worsen the perception toward each other.

More importantly, the majority of Hong Kong residents should speaker louder against the small number of people’s farces that damage the ties between the mainland and Hong Kong.

There are many ugly cases across China during peak travel season, from the high-priced shrimps in Qingdao of Shandong province to the bully tour guides in Yunnan province. But no case is as cold-blooded as the deadly beating which could deal a big blow to the already gloomy local tourism.

Like many travel disputes in other places, this tragedy is a painful result of long-time vicious competition among the ultra-low priced trips. The Hong Kong tourism authorities have reportedly said 85 percent trips organized by mainland travel agencies are “free-charged” or “at a steep discount”.

The agencies, as well as the volunteer tour guides, make their money from forced shopping.

This tragedy needs to be recognized, the violence should be strongly condemned.
But it’s not a conflict between the mainlanders and Hongkongers, as the suspects possibly involve staff with mainland travel agencies and the local shop both.

It’s high time for local tourism authorities to take effective action to curb such ultra-low priced trips.

Unfortunately this case has escalated into a crisis that may damage the reputation of Hong Kong tourism.

Especially after a series of cases strain the ties between some mainland and Hong Kong residents in the past years.

From crying wolf over the baby formula to clash over a toddler answering to nature’s call in public, from some’s laughter about “locusts” to the months-long “occupy central”, a small group of black sheep have tarnished Hong Kong’s image as a hospitable heaven.

However, the whole Hong Kong society has begun swallowing the bitter fruits.

In sharp contrast to the increase of mainland tourists to Japan, South Korea, and even Europe during the golden week of National Day holiday, winter is falling on the Hong Kong’s tourism and retails sectors.

According to CreditSuisse, Hong Kong’s retail sector is expected to witness a 5 percent drop in 2015, the biggest yearly fall since 2000.

This is largely due to the decreasing number of mainland tourists. Besides the depreciation of Japanese yen and euro, Hong Kong’s advantages as a regional service hub are being undermined.

Hong Kong has opened its doors to individual tourists from the mainland after SARS brought coldness to its local tourism and retails since 2003. In 1997, it managed to withstand the storm of the Asia’s financial crisis with the support of the mainland.

Hong Kong could only maintain to be the bright pearl of Asia by keeping itself close to the mainland. Hopefully more Hong Kong residents will no longer allow themselves to bear the brunt of some black sheep’s wrongdoings. There should be no tragedy like this case again.