Authorities have announced visitor targets for the new shopping complex in San Tin, amid concerns that the project will become a hub for parallel traders.

The shopping centre, which is set to open in July, is located near the Lok Ma Chau border crossing. The complex was designed to look as if it was built with shipping containers.

san tin shopping city
San Tin Shopping City.

Lawmaker Wong Ting-Kwong, who acts as consultant for the project, said it is estimated to attract up to 10,000 shoppers a day, with 45 per cent of those being local consumers, 30 per cent being mainland tourists and the other 25 per cent tourists from elsewhere. It can accommodate over 200 shops, and will provide a shuttle going to-and-from the mainland for about HK$18.

The project was originally conceived as a temporary outlet to ease the flow of mainland shoppers to the North District.

But Wong said that the developer was worried that the complex would give people the impression that it was built for parallel traders, and so they decided to establish the San Tin Shopping City Foundation, and put income earned from rent towards charity after deducting costs.

wong ting kwong
Wong Ting-Kwong. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.


“But normal tourists who really come for shopping wouldn’t go there – it only facilitates parallel traders,” one nearby resident told RTHK. “So it’s useless, it may only partially ease the number of parallel traders who go to Yuen Long or other places.”

According to Apple Daily, Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting also questioned how attractive the complex will be for Hongkongers, saying: “Why would Hongkongers come? You would only go there if it was along the way.”

But the director of the shopping complex, Ho Kwok-yui, told RTHK that they are not worried that it will become parallel trading hub.

San Tin Shopping City
Construction site of San Tin Shopping City.

“[Parallel traders’] purchasing methods and operating modes are completely different from the personal purchasing habits of regular consumers,” he said.

The complex contains both sit-down toilets and squat toilets, local media have noted, calling the washrooms an embodiment of “one country, two systems.”

catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.