BEIJING: Fifty-six mainland Chinese visitors have been arrested in a series of pre-Christmas immigration raids, Hong Kong officials said.The tourists, all from the mainland, are suspected to have been illegally working in the so-called parallel goods trading around the New Territories, which is an automatic breach of their condition of stay in Hong Kong.
Those arrested were found to be buying food, milk powder, wine, cosmetics, skin-care products, daily necessities, shoes, mobile phones and other electronic products, with the intention of reselling those products across the border, dodging higher taxes on the mainland.
Parallel trading in most goods is not illegal in Hong Kong, so the action against the traders is taken under the immigration laws, on the ground that they have violated their condition of stay.
Codenamed “Windsand”, the joint effort by police and the Immigration Department is part of an ongoing operation to discourage parallel trading. The latest operation ran from Monday to Wednesday.
The 56 mainland visitors, including 29 men and 27 women aged from 29 to 72, were arrested in Castle Peak Road, San Tin and areas around Manor Garden and Man Tin Cheung Park in Lok Ma Chau, as well as Ka Fu Close, San Wan Road and Advanced Technology Centre in Sheung Shui.
Visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration,” an Immigration Department spokesman said.Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties. The Immigration Department will continue to take enforcement action…against the offences concerned.”
Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction may face a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment.