A Chinese tourist was beaten to death in Hong Kong over a 'forced shopping' row on Tuesday (20 October). The victim is believed to have intervened when a woman traveller was forced upon by a female tour leader to buy jewellery from a particular store as operators of discount group tours often compel tourists to buy at select shops in the city.
The deceased, identified as Miao Chunqi, 54, a building contractor from north-east China, was dragged into the street and beaten by a group of men following the altercation in a jewellery shop in Kowloon. He was later found lying dead outside the same shop. According to BBC, four people including both the two women involved in the initial argument have been arrested by the Hong Kong Tourist Board (HKTB) in connection with the death.
"The HKTB has zero tolerance for any act that impacts the hospitable image of Hong Kong, particularly acts of violence," it said in a statement.
Hong Kong has always been a preferred destination for mainland Chinese travellers but it has also been the source of many complaints over so-called 'forced shopping.' Tour operators initially charge very low prices but recover the costs through commission paid to them by shops where tourists are taken and heavily pressured to purchase items.
"Forced shopping" tours have been banned by the government but are still rampant. The police have also received several complaints from mainland visitors alleging that their tour guides forced them to stay in shops even when they wanted to leave. China had even introduced legislation in 2013 in an attempt to regulate this menace and protect tourists but it has had little effect.
Meanwhile, on the mainland, the man's death prompted calls for a boycott of travel to Hong Kong. China's National Tourism Administration has previously urged Hong Kong authorities to protect mainland tourists' rights who repeatedly get entangled in such situations.