With two days remaining before what is expected to be a huge pro-democracy march on Thursday, Chinese authorities are clamping down to prevent news of the demonstration from spreading on the mainland, while leading democrats here have split over tactics.
Mainland tourists have flooded Hong Kong in the past year, taking advantage of a relaxation of Chinese exit-visa rules that was intended to help the economy here. The annual commemoration here on June 4 of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings drew large numbers of mainlanders this year, watching silently an event that would have quickly been broken up by the police if it had occurred anywhere else in China.
But travel industry officials say China has cut back very sharply this week on the number of mainlanders allowed to be in Hong Kong during the march on Thursday, which will protest Beijing’s decision not to allow general elections here.
Charles Ng, the vice chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, said Tuesday that relatively few tour groups were scheduled to enter this Chinese territory for the rest of the week. The typical pace in recent months has been as many as 500 groups a day.
Chinese censors blocked the entry of Western newspapers immediately after the commemoration of the Tiananmen Square crackdown earlier this month, and even removed pages of later newspapers that had articles mentioning the Hong Kong protest. Britain turned Hong Kong over to China in 1997.
It almost sounds as if they’re afraid of something.
I hate to tell them, but I’m sure word of the HK protest has spread thru China via the Internet already, and to a large extent the consors are only fooling themselves.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.