A representative for the independence-leaning group Hong Kong Indigenous has proposed to boost Hong Kong-Taiwan youth tourism by promoting democracy-themed tour packages, to lessen reliance on mainland Chinese tourists.

Activist Ray Wong Toi-yeung said in a joint press conference with the pro-independence party Taiwan Radical Wings on Thursday: “Hong Kong and Taiwan are both being suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party… Hong Kong and Taiwan need to break away from reliance on Chinese tourists by promoting ‘democracy youth tourism’ between the two territories.”

Ray Wong (centre) met with members of pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings. Photo: HK Indigenous, via Facebook.

Wong said that mainland Chinese tourists have a negative impact on Hong Kong society, through things such as parallel trading and disruption to the everyday life of local residents.

“The problem is that Hong Kong businesses do not benefit from the influx of Chinese tourists, because businesses such as pharmacies and gold shops are backed by Chinese capital,” the activist said. “These businesses use our land and resources in Hong Kong to make money from Chinese people, but Hong Kong doesn’t get any profit from them.”

“This is a policy that betrays the people of Hong Kong,” he added, referring to the government’s tourism policy that aims at attracting mainland Chinese visitors.

‘Economic independence’ 

Wong said that encouraging Hong Kong-Taiwan tourism can help achieve economic independence and resist Beijing’s ambition of uniting different interest groups in the two territories through the tourism industry.

Taiwan Radical Wings proposed making “democracy maps” introducing places that relate to Taiwan’s history and human rights, and providing multi-lingual information services in tourist attractions for visitors to learn about Taiwan’s democratic development.

Ray Wong (centre) and members of Taiwan Radical Wings.

Veteran commentator Jonny Lau Yui-siu told Ming Pao that the rise of Hong Kong localism and self-determination would lead to more Hong Kong-Taiwan cooperation, and the Chinese government would want to suppress the emergence of such cooperation. However, the commentator said, any attempt by Beijing to suppress pro-independence voices in Hong Kong and Taiwan will likely backfire.

Wong is visiting Taiwan for two weeks to share his experience in politics with Taiwan activists. He said he hopes to meet Shih Chao-hu, a 97-year-old pro-independence leader and the author of the book Taiwan’s 400 Year History.

Wong will be meeting with members of the New Power Party and the Social Democratic Party next week.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.