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Hong Kong mulls restrictions on Chinese tourists
[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's leader said on Tuesday that the government is looking to restrict the number of Chinese tourists entering the city, following a public backlash over the influx of mainland visitors.
The announcement came after a leading travel body said official figures showed the volume of mainland visitors over the Lunar New Year period fell for the first time in almost 20 years - attributing the trend to the frosty reception they receive.
"We will continue to speak with Chinese authorities about whether or not there is space to tighten the (visitor) scheme to be able to control the natural trend of increasing mainland visitors in Hong Kong," the city's leader Leung Chun-ying said.
Leung said the growing number of Chinese visitors has "put pressure on the everyday life of Hong Kong residents".
Residents from 49 Chinese cities can currently apply for a multi-entry travel permit to visit Hong Kong.
Leung said that scheme would not be expanded and that he would raise the issue at the next meeting of the National People's Congress - China's parliament - at the beginning of March.
Hong Kongers have grown increasingly angry at the number of Chinese traders who travel to Hong Kong's border towns to stock up on everything from iPads to milk powder.
Protests against the traders have led to violent clashes over recent weekends, with police using pepper spray.
The semi-autonomous southern city of seven million people is also a favourite shopping destination for wealthy mainland visitors eager to stock up on Western luxury brands.
Mass democracy protests at the end of last year also showed building anti-China sentiment, with tens of thousands protesting against Beijing's restrictions on the vote for Hong Kong's next leader.