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Sun Nov 23 07:56:05 SAST 2014

Thousands join Hong Kong campaign to keep out Chinese motorists

Sapa-dpa | 13 February, 2012 10:00
Protesters take part in a slow walk protesting against a government scheme that would allow mainland-registered cars into the territory, in Hong Kong February 12, 2012.
Image by: TYRONE SIU / REUTERS

More than 7,000 people were Monday backing an online campaign against a scheme which will allow 50 mainland Chinese cars a day to cross the border and drive on Hong Kong roads.

The group on the social networking website Facebook was set up after the scheme was announced by the Hong Kong government last week.

Up to 50 mainland Chinese motorists will be allowed to drive into Hong Kong every day, up to a maximum limit of 350 at any one time. Drivers from Hong Kong will also be allowed to travel to the Chinese border province of Guangdong.

Those against the scheme claim it will make the city's roads more polluted and less safe as drivers from China will find it difficult to adapt to driving on the left, a legacy of its colonial past, compared to the right in China.

The Democratic Party has also collected 1,400 signatures protesting against the scheme and on Sunday more than 200 people attended a rally in the city's Victoria Park urging the government to scrap the plan.

The protest comes at a time when tensions are rising between Hong Kong people and their Chinese mainland neighbours following a series of cross-border spats.

Many are particularly vexed by the tens of thousands of pregnant mainland women who cross the border every year to give birth in Hong Kong, putting a huge strain on public hospitals.

Earlier this month, a group of Hong Kong residents took out a full-page newspaper advertisement calling mainland Chinese visitors "locusts" in response to comments by a Beijing professor which called Hong Kong people "bastards," "thieves" and "dogs."

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