The construction of a border shopping centre in Lok Ma Chau is set to be completed by late July or early August, pro-establishment DAB lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong, one of the initiators of the project, has said

Won said that there were 208 retail spaces and local brands and social enterprises have already signed letters of intent. He told RTHK that revenue from the border shopping centre will be used for charitable purposes.

Lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong. Photo: LegCo.

The mall was proposed in February 2015 to relieve border towns of the influx of parallel traders. Wong also said that contracts have been signed with tour bus companies, meaning that mainland visitors can come in from Futian, Shenzhen directly.

The central government announced last April that the multiple entry permit programme for Shenzhen residents under the Individual Visit Scheme would be switched to a one-entry-per-week permit.

Parallel traders in Sheung Shui. Photo: Irene Law via North District Parallel Imports Concern Group.

However, one year after, rents for some shops continued to rise 10-20 percent in Sheung Shui, a parallel trading hotspot, despite a general fall according to a study done by the Rating and Valuation Department.

Over the past week, parallel traders in Sheung Shui have been occupying a space outside the MTR’s Exit C. Irene Law posted on Facebook, saying “the situation outside Sheung Shui’s MTR Exit C is still bustling, the councillor said that there would be action but it was just talk.”

It is unknown what changes the Lok Ma Chau shopping will bring or whether it will alleviate the situation in Sheung Shui. The mall is seen as one of the many white elephant projects in recent years, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. It is expected to operate for three years.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.