efe-epaHong Kong

Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday to denounce Chinese traders buying up goods in a border town for resale on the mainland in the latest of a string of protests to have swept the ex-British colony in the past month.

Some 20,000 Hong Kong citizens according to organizers rallied in Sheung Shui, a town a few minutes' drive away from the Chinese border, calling for the recovery of Sheung Shui, where local residents have for years been complaining of the nuisance caused by traders coming from mainland China to buy up goods in bulk to sell on.

The protest came four days after Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam announced the "death" of a much-criticized extradition bill that would have enabled Hong Kong to transfer suspects to jurisdictions it currently does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China.

Although Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, declared the demise of the bill on Tuesday, popular discontent with the government continues to run high.

The Saturday protest is one of several anti-government protests planned over the next two weeks in different parts of the city.

During the Sheung Shui protest, demonstrators chanted slogans against day-tripping shoppers who in the past decade have been crossing into Hong Kong to snap up daily items - from baby milk formula to cosmetics and chocolates - and reselling them in mainland China.

The practice, known as "parallel trading," enables traders to make profits out of price differences between mainland China and Hong Kong. Unlike the mainland, Hong Kong does not charge a goods and services tax.

Local residents find themselves worse off because of the practice, as the district has been flooded with parallel traders, and many age-old shops have closed down and been replaced by pharmacies and cosmetics stores catering to the traders.

Protest organizer Ronald Leung said although the extradition bill had been declared "dead" by Lam, Hong Kong citizens remained disgruntled with the government and would continue to take to the streets.

"Yes, the bill is now so-called 'dead', but people don't trust the government. And there are still many local issues that have not be resolved. The extradition bill issue provides a platform for people to voice their grievance and concerns over different problems," he said.

One of the protesters, identified as Kitty, a housewife and long-time resident of Sheung Shui, said: "I used to buy school uniforms for my children at a local tailor shop that had been around for decades. But it has closed down."

Now it's become yet another cosmetics shop. The extradition bill is a big problem, but there are many other problems in different parts of Hong Kong since it returned to China. It's time for everyone to come out," she said. EFE-EPA

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