“Liberate Sheung Shui Station”: Hong Kong Netizens Act Against Smugglers

Recently, a netizen posted photos of smugglers of Sheung Shui station and the issue sparks anger among netizens again. The event page “光復上水站” (Liberate Sheung Shui Station) was later set up to ask other netizens to “have a walk in Sheung Shui Station” on  9.15 and 9.16.

East Rail Line – Frontline of Conflict between Hongkongers and Mainlanders
Sheung Shui station belongs to the East Rail Line, where the widely reported Mainland girl eating incident  happened, and it is the last station before immigration checkpoints in Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.

The Map of the East Rail Line. Sheung Shui is the last station before immigration checkpoints Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. (Left side)

Sheung Shui Smugglers were The First to Won the “Locusts” Title in the Media

Almost 2 years ago, the notorious slang “locusts” appeared in the media for the first time when Apple Daily reported that daily necessities in Sheung Shui were started to be smuggled into Mainland China as prices inflate in China and Hong Kong dollar depreciates.

The notorious slang “locusts” was first used in Apple Daily in a report about Sheung Shui smugglers on 2010.11.15.

Why Smuggling?

According to CNN report of this protest,

Food scandals in mainland China, including the 2008 tainted baby formula scare in which more than 53,000 infants were reported ill, have pushed many consumers to buy products made elsewhere. Hong Kong goods are considered to adhere to stricter quality guidelines.

Many products in Hong Kong have also become cheaper than the same ones found in mainland China. Since 2005, China’s currency, the yuan, has strengthened 25% against the U.S. dollar, to which the Hong Kong dollar is pegged.

And if goods are ferried over in a piecemeal fashion by mainland day traders — box-by-box versus traditional cargo containers — importers can avoid commercial tariffs that average 50%. Taxes on electronic goods can reach as high as 70%, adds So.

Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) Worsens Smuggling

According to an essay titled “Sheung Shui has too many IVS tourists that the place becomes unwalkable” from inmediahk.net,

The conflict between Sheung Shui residents and Mainlanders and smugglers starts from the moment of getting off a train. In the past, the northbound (to Lo Wu) platform had always been empty. Boarding a train was an easy job. The chance of encountering smugglers, who were mostly housewives earning extra income, was occasional. In recent years, getting off a train is like competing to be the first pilgrim of Wong Tai Sin Temple on the first day of the lunar calendar – there are many people getting off trains and even more people boarding, even during rush hours. By estimation, the former is Sheung Shui residents and the latter is either Mainlanders or smugglers. These days, majority of smugglers are Mainlanders, taking the advantage of multiple entry permit to earn extra income. (*This policy was implemented in April 2009 to make Shenzhen residents more convenient.) Therefore, everyone doesn’t give way. Getting off a train is like a battle. One can’t get off a train if one doesn’t give full effort. In the past, traveling was tranquil. Now, one has to squeeze into the crowded northbound train to Sheung Shui and then shove to get off. Squeezing through the crowd to return home, one finally feels tranquil.

The Aim of Multiple Entry Permit is to Integrate Hong Kong Into Shenzhen

According to 2012.8.13 People’s Daily Overseas Edition,

Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) relaxes restrictions again, implying that Hongkongers and Mainlanders will have “intimate contact”. This “intimate contact” may not assimilate both sides. However, it can reduce barriers and misunderstandings between both. When people see Mainland and Hong Kong kids playing together happily inside Ocean Park; When Mainland backpackers speak Mandarin with the old man of the fish ball stall in the alley, one may understand why Hongkongers regard IVS as the most influential policy favoring Hong Kong.

“If there were no IVS, Hong Kong would have been lingered in darkness much longer.” This is the feeling many Hongkongers share when they recall that difficult period (*SARS). “Multiple entry permit” is not only about tourism, it is also about the deepening of economic corporation between Guangdong and Hong Kong. The relaxation of IVS will promote “the integration of Shenzhen and Hong Kong into one city” doubtlessly. Hong Kong will also find new economic growth point in the closer trading ties with Mainland China.

The expansion of multiple entry permit to Shenzhen non-permanent (non-Hukou aka migrant workers) residents is temporarily halted.

Inside the Train

Sun: [Please Share] East Rail should not let smugglers shipping for free! Smugglers make big noise during goods distribution in the passenger compartment. I once complained to MTR staffs, but they replied that they can’t help!

Wan Chin (a columnist and scholar): The invasion of the empire – Mainlanders enjoy the privilege that exempts them from penalties. Hong Kong falls into anarchy.

On the Northbound Platform of Sheung Shui Station

From “Sheung Shui has too many IVS tourists that the place becomes unwalkable”,

The platform is even messier – this past Saturday, I saw people taking a rest, pulling many goods, dragging luggage after shopping, exchanging goods and unpacking. The platform is almost like a logistics centre! Infant formulas, medicinal oil, diapers, Yakult (which is a must), varieties of Nissin’s instant noodles, all kinds of tetra pak drinks, sauce, ketchup, small electronics, quilts etc can be seen. Mooncake is the new favourite. Groups of smugglers unpacked and distributed goods professionally. I even saw a man commanding 20 smugglers in front of him. Therefore, on the platform, there are lots of people, goods, luggage and even more abandoned cartons. Only a fine print notice “No Stopping. No trading” is in the corner.

Packs of Japanese diapers “Merries” were being smuggled into Mainland China.

Inside Sheung Shui Station


Hoiman (*uploader): Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t even enter the lobby…

Netizens’ reactions towards the difficulty of using elevators due to smugglers

Chu: The only elevator in Fanling Station has also been invaded. A helpless mother who was pushing a baby stroller asked for help and a staff replied coldly, “You should just line up.”

Kwan: I once took the passenger elevator of Landmark North to the ground floor. While my family and I was entering the elevator, there were 3 people behind us. At that time, there were 4 or 5 people inside. The door closed suddenly. It was the smuggler, who was an old man and the first of the queue, pressing the close button nonstop. As he was an old man, I didn’t do anything for fear that I would be called bullying the elderly.

Later, I took the same elevator. In front of me, there was a family, a couple with an elderly on the wheelchair. Those smugglers didn’t line up and stood on the side way so that they could jump the queue. When the elevator door opened, it was full, so nobody could enter.

Later, an empty elevator returned. The couple pushed the elderly inside. My family and I entered. A young Mainlander pushing a cart of large goods also entered. You can imagine how crowded the elevator was!

Those smugglers still wanted to squeeze several more carts in. The couple explained there was no space and it was overloaded. They still squeezed into it. We could only tell the young Mainlander to close the door. However, he kept pressing the open button and wanted to let more smugglers in. The man of the couple couldn’t stand it and started blocking smugglers while pressing the close button nonstop. The woman of the couple and I shouted at the young Mainlander. He then stopped pressing it and the door closed.

Even taking an elevator is a battle. They are brutal. I really hate them!

Outside of Sheung Shui Station

[Locusts] 3000 Locusts Invaded Sheung Shui Station 18-8-2012

[Locust Plague] Sheung Shui Residents Couldn’t Stand Shameless Mainlanders and Finally Fought Back 22-6-2012

A netizen filmed how smugglers blocking pavements and bridges around Sheung Shui Station.

Comic of Sheung Shui Smugglers

One afternoon, when I was walking to the pedestrian bridge, a smuggler couple sat on the steps. The smuggler uncle roared at the phone, “Hurry up! How long do you want us to wait?” (The cartoonist wrote the dialogue in simplified Chinese.) The smuggler auntie was using the free time to clip toe nails. While a young person was squeezing through the little space between them, he was hit by the “stray bullet”.

Injured by Smugglers

: Damn! Last night, when my son was returning home from work, passing through the pavement outside Choi Yuen Estate, he was hit by a smuggler’s cart and his hand is fractured!!! Now he has to wear plaster cast!!!!!!!!! You tell me how to tolerate ><“

Mei: This is the hand that is fractured by Mainland smuggler bastards, fleeing after hitting someone! Now he has to stop working and gets no income. How can he keep his job!!!

Her son was interviewed by Oriental Daily.

“Mr Au was injured by a smuggler who was pushing goods in Choi Yuen Road. He can’t work for two months.”

Mr Au also appeared in the Saturday protest.

“Hands Stop, Mouth Stops” (Unable to work, no income)

Sheung Shui Residents are being Marginalised in Their Qwn Home

Please read “My Impression of Sheung Shui” in the middle of the page.

Government Turns a Blind Eye to the Issue

C.R.E.A.M.: I have a friend who lives near Choi Yuen Estate. He/She (*Cantonese doesn’t have female pronoun.) complained to the district council member (*The district council member of Choi Yuen belongs to pro-Beijing DAB). Surprisingly, the representative supports smugglers.

Interestingly, the same district council member of Choi Yuen appeared in the CNN report and talked as if he cared.

會: Wow…It’s f**king bad. Treating the station as a warehouse…Hong Kong government has died…They are afraid of Beijing to death.

Highland1988: Why do Mainlanders seem to have privileges in Hong Kong? They can do whatever they want. What’s going on?

9.15 Action

British Hong Kong Flag

The Union Jack in the flag probably serves as an insult to China.

The bearer of British Hong Kong flag was attacked by a pro-China old man. While smugglers were very excited, other protesters shouted “go back to China” and “arrest him”.

A mob of angry smugglers yelled at the bearer with accented Cantonese, “Beat him to death!”

An Anti-Chinese Sign

“Chinese Go Back to China”

Several protesters strove to keep the anti-Chinese sign up.

Japanese Products are still Popular in Mainland China Despite Anti-Japan Sentiment Heightens

Sign on top: Give me back Yakult

Sign under: To Mainlander, “Love your motherland, please use Chinese product.”

Meanwhile, a Guangzhou woman wrote on Weibo that she drank made-in-Hong-Kong Japanese brand Yakult after throwing eggs at and smashing windows of the Japanese Embassy. She is now nicknamed as “Yakult Sister 益力多姐” by mainland Chinese netizen.

Wendy Fen: We could not break into the (Japanese) embassy. We could only throw eggs and smash windows. I rested a little bit and drank Yakult. Come on, China!

9.16 Action

Footage from TVB News,

British Hong Kong flag also appeared on 9.16 protest.

The sign on the left: Go Back to Your Strong Country. (*The character for “country”, 國, has an extra “insect” radical, 虫 to emphaise the “Locustness”)

The sign on the right: Chinese Smugglers, IVS, Piss Off!

9.18 Action

As the problem has not been improved, some netizens decided to protest in there daily.

“Mainland Dogs”

Protesters yelled “Mainland dogs” when smugglers walked past them.

“Locusts”

They also yelled “locusts”. The speech at 0:29, “Why do the police let them go?”

“Dead Locusts”

Protesters also yelled “dead locusts” at trains towards Mainland China.

Mainland Smuggler, “I come here to boost the economy of Hong Kong.”

(*The Mainland smuggler first spoke in accented Cantonese and then switched back to Mandarin.)

Tony: Several decades ago, CCP needed the salvation of the world. Hundred millions of people died of famine and even depended on Hong Kong and other overseas Chinese for help. Now, they can’t even get non-poisonous food. Yet, they have to come to “save” Hong Kong.

The Hard-Fought Tranquility Comes At Last


However, netizens think the tranquility won’t last long.

Former Deputy Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Criticises the Use of British Hong Kong Flag

Chen Zhoer, who was famous for coining the term “車毀人亡” (car ruined, people died) to criticise the high welfare spending of the colonial government, critcises the use of the British Hong Kong flag in protests while promoting his “tell-all” book on the Sino-British talk and preparation work for the Handover. The news intentionally calls the colonial Hong Kong flag as the “rice-character flag” (米字旗), the Chinese name for the Union Jack.

Netizens wave the virtual colonial Hong Kong flag when commenting on his speech.


(*For your entertainment)
vs

The Power of the British Hong Kong Flag

A comic artist mocks that the British Hong Kong Flag, a taboo to HKSAR and China, is the only incentive to get the government working. In the comic, Carrie Lam, the Chief Secretary for Administration, becomes Carrie Potter upon seeing the colonial flag and removes smugglers with her magic wand.

Liberate Hong Kong

Chiu: Today (9.20.12), when I was listening to DBC (*a radio station), a resident of Tai Wai called the station and is furious that smugglers have dispersed along the East Rail Line, even as far as Tai Wai. Our tragedy is now known to others. When we were liberating Sheung Shui station, nobody cared and some even said we were unruly Sheung Shui people. Now, they feel our pain. Now, I ask them if they want us to upgrade the action to become “Liberate Hong Kong”. Therefore, you should not think that

34 thoughts on ““Liberate Sheung Shui Station”: Hong Kong Netizens Act Against Smugglers

  1. They should make Lo Wu Northbound only and Lok Ma Chau southbound only. That will make it harder to hop back and forth across the border. Also place limits on how many times a person can cross each day.

    By the way, now that the Western Crossing is starting to become more popular, Tuen Mun is getting swamped too. I was at TMT Plaza recently and the Watson’s there was completely beseiged (even though there was no milk powder to be found).

  2. Sheung Shi residents are not asking much, they just want some order and cleanliness back in their neighbourhood. The HK government has failed them miserably.

    • The sentiment pertains to the fact times were better in the colonial era, where the government enact policies that were just and fair. In contrast to the SAR government where Hong Kong people have little trust, faith and support. The 15 years of SAR governance have shown us the government is willing to sell out grass root and local interests.

      Perhaps we should see it as a sign of the SAR government’s ineptness rather than a longing to return to British colonial rule.

    • Because, the British Governours regarded Hongkong as their own city and Hongkongers as their own citizens they have to take care of. Many Hongkongers have very positive memories of British Governors who were very committed to improving the life of Hongkongers. The governments since July 1997 are in stark contrast to that. They all put Peking first and Hong Kong second or even third. They don’t do for Hong Kong and are thus traitors of Hong Kong. They don’t deserve any respect of Honkongers, because they don’t have a mandate from the people.

  3. curious, why don’t HK just change the multi-visit scheme to no more than 2x entry per day? using Lo WU and Lok Ma Chau for NB and SB is NOT useful, since the problem is at Sheung Shui…however, I would change the pricing structure, say tripling or quadruple (even 10x) the train fare on any segments traveled in any direction between Sheung Shui and the border. (ie if you travel from Sha Tin to Lo Wu, then the fare will increase 10x of the Sheung Shui to Lo Wu segment alone.)

    • The problem at Sheung Shui is caused by people zipping back and forth across the border several times a day. Seperating the northbound and southbound checkpoints will complicate that. Though I agree that a simple limit on daily crossings is probably the easiest way.

      A “border tax” as you propose is not going to work. Hong Kong people need to use the border too, and they won’t appreciate the extra cost.

      • Or perhaps a violation of their visitorial visas. Their visas stipulate that they are prohibited from any form of labour or exchange of goods and services. If the Hong Kong SAR government can regain authority on regulating these visas then it will simply be a customs and labour department issue.

    • I’ve just written the aim of “multiple entry permit” (一簽多行). The ultimate goal is to integrate Hong Kong and Shenzhen into one city. That means IVS is to make Hongkongers adapt to the free flow of Mainlanders. The deadline for integrating Hong Kong and Shenzhen into one city is 2020. I’m going to write about the integration plan because people are going to protest against it on this Saturday.

  4. Great coverage! Please keep writing, it’s hard to find English language coverage of the events in Hong Kong. Also, I was wondering–do you think the only solution for Hong Kong is to break off from China, like Singapore and Malaysia? With the elder generation and HK phoney gov officials, what is the tipping point for Hong Kong? It seems like in any other country, much worse would have happened.

    • Actually, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, not by choice. But that’s another story, what we need now is what’s best for HK.

      • Well, yes, but LKY took advantage of the situation in fast establishing the Republic. This is what HK needs to do…be ready to take charge once things start to become chaotic on the mainland and the country starts to disintegrate.

    • Singapore was forcibly expelled from Malaysia due to its population of ethnic Chinese exceeding the Malays, Singapore’s independence was due to racism and mutual cultural differences that forced them apart.

      That isnt the case with Hong Kong, many Hong Kongers may want to be independent but China does not and will not allow it. This mentality goes beyond the CCP, just look at the actions of ordinary Chinese over a bunch of stupid islands, do you think they will allow one of their most prosperous cities to break away?

      If China were to disintegrate into civil war and Hong Kong were to somehow sit it out, the side that wins will simply retake Hong Kong. We do not have a military and even if we did, I doubt it can stop the PLA.

      The whole idea of Hong Kong independence is nice, but unrealistic if not downright dangerous as it could spook the CCP into doing something rash, the best we can do is to stall their encroachment as much as possible and export as much of Hong Kong’s values and ideas onto the mainland in the hopes that the PRC will reform enough that 2047 wont be as painful as it currently looks.

      • I understand your thinking and it has merit. However, I am of the opinion that China only delayed a Soviet Style disintegration, and did not avoid it. When the Soviet Union broke up, the dozens of countries that split off did so without falling into conflict with Russia.

        The fact is, Russia and its people did not have the will to force them to stay in a union, and they left on their own. China has several regions that it can only hold with sheer force and brutality and where the people their despise the Chinese government and the Chinese people and take every opportunity to cause them trouble.

        I am of the opinion that a disintegrating China may initially attempt to force them to stay in a Chinese state, but the people will not have the will to use the brutality and force that would be necessary, especially if it required military intervention, should China become a more pluralistic or democratic society. Nowadays the people don’t know what to think because they have no access to information – so the government does the thinking for them. As the process of disintegration is set in motion, it would be wise to be prepared to take advantage of the chaos and do what is best for Hong Kong. China needs Hong Kong, more than Hong Kong news China. I say this, because no mater who controls the mainland, they will still want to do business with and visit Hong Kong. However, they need access to International markets and finance in Hong Kong for a long time to come. We survived all those decades when China was totally absent from the word, and by moving up the value chain we can do it again.

        Hong Kong has ceded all of its advantages to China theses days. In a Singapore with a government supported high tech plan, they excel in making high technology products such as computers and robotics, and even manufacture jet engines. Yet Hong Kong has given all of that to China, so much so, that the local government pays to educate engineers who end up having to go to China to find a job. We are screwing ourselves.

        I believe this is all part of the grand plan to fold Hong Kong into China proper. We have so much that China doesn’t, we need to do whatever it takes to preserve all of this, because if we lose it, we will never get it back, and these days, we are going in the wrong direction.

      • /We do not have a military/ This, so HK independence talk must include a plan for that: Before the takeover HK had the backing of the British Navy, HK was paying taxes to Britain…maybe HK could pay some fee to Britain again in exchange for protection as a commonwealth territory, one that has full control of its own borders by its own people.

      • HK is small, but invading it militarily would be very difficult and would be complicated by mostly close quarter street fighting. It would be difficult not to harm civilians as well because of the way HK people live so closely to each other. I am not sure we would need help from the British, but it would be nice if somebody could assist. I am not sure the British would be interested in having anything to do with Hk at this point.

        They key to solving this could come after the European Constitution is equally applied throughout out the EU member states. If Britain adopted the EU constitution then in theory one could take the BNO citizenship issue to the ECJ and the basis of equal rights and a two tier citizenship system. If the case could be won, it would mean that hundreds of thousands of HK’ers could become full British nationals, which would then oblige the UK government to protect them…..get my point? This is not an impossibility.However, even as BNO’s, we are entitled to UK protection.

        I think the Singapore model proves it can work. HK and Singapore are nearly equal in every respect. Researching Singapore would help in preparing for the China implosion.

  5. I don’t understand what the Hong Kong media and government keep referring to them as “parallel traders,” when in fact at any other time in any other place in the world, they are known as “smugglers.”

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