Hong Kong protesters target mainland Chinese traders

The People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in a performance during an open day of Stonecutters Island naval base in Hong Kong

Protests against the bill had largely taken place in Hong Kong's main business district, but demonstrators have recently begun to look elsewhere to widen support by taking up narrower, more domestic issues. "We want Sheung Shui back". Police went on to several streets and footbridges, apparently looking for protesters, and used loudhailers to stop some demonstrators from using laser light beams to target them.

Sheung Shui boasts dozens of pharmacies and cosmetic stores that are hugely popular with mainland merchants who snap up goods in Hong Kong - where there is no sales tax - and resell them across the border.

The small-time mainland traders have always been a source of anger among some in Hong Kong who argue they have fuelled inflation, dodged taxes, diluted the town's identity, and caused a spike in property prices.

Police in Sheung Shui, Hong Kong, struggled to contain a July 13 protest against parallel traders from mainland China.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam this week said the bill was "dead" after having suspended it last month, but opponents are demanding a formal withdrawal.

Protesters anonymously posted plans online, notifying of their continued efforts to get the government to withdraw a proposed extradition bill that would allow courts to send Hong Kong citizens convicted of certain crimes to trial in mainland China.

Do Hong Kong people want a city of rule of law, unity, safety, stability and civilized conduct, or a city of violence, disputes, rifts and uncivilized behavior, the Chinese official asked rhetorically.

When former colonial ruler Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, Chinese leaders promised the city a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Most of the shops in Sheung Shui were shuttered ahead of the protests, with protesters forcing the few still open to close, images broadcast by local media showed. "I hope that through today's action, people in Hong Kong will not forget that there are actually many other social issues waiting to be solved".

Police then raised red warning flags to order protesters to leave immediately.

The scene had calmed down somewhat by 8pm, when most of the protesters were leaving, but more than a hundred police officers in riot gear suddenly appeared at 8.10.

Some one million mainlanders have moved to Hong Kong since its 1997 handover, a flashpoint issue in the notoriously overcrowded city which already boasts one of the world's most expensive property markets.

"They are the most important power left that can stand up to China", added the 30-year-old man, who gave his name only as David, declining to reveal his surname.

Anti-extradition protesters were planning another demonstration on Sunday in the town of Sha Tin, in the so-called New Territories between Hong Kong Island and the border with China.

Similar protests have included a march last week by almost 2,000 people in the Tuen Mun residential district to protest against what they saw as the nuisance of brash singing and dancing to Mandarin pop songs by middle-aged mainland women.

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