The Chinese material cult and cross-border tourism in postcolonial Hong Kong

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016

Conference

Title5th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network
PlaceNepal
CityKathmandu
Period12 - 14 December 2016

Abstract

Hong Kong (HK)-China borderland is now one of the busiest borderlands in the world with over 40 million crossing the border each year. The majority of these Chinese tourists cross the border to HK for shopping in the form of borderland tourism. They stuffed their suitcases and bags with fashionable clothing, accessories, Japanese junk food, skin-care and cosmetic products, shampoos and toothpaste, manufactured medicine, and foreign branded milk powder and baby diapers.
In many of the shopping malls lining the stations along the rail line that connects HK to China, one would witness thousands and thousands of Chinese tourists busy churning in and out of boutiques and shops to search for various commodities. Feeling insecure and having doubts about the quality of material goods in China, these millions Chinese tourists flocked to HK to attain a sense of security and guarantee for material authenticity. Such a desire at the same time raises a specific market in the southern cities of Guangdong for products from Hong Kong, locally known as ‘ganghuo dian’ (shops for HK goods). It also generates an enormous market for the illicit petty trading sector known as parallel trading, which has aroused a series of social debates.
This paper examines how the Chinese obsession with ‘ganghuo’ (HK goods) has rendered HK ‘a movable feast’ to satisfy Chinese tourists’ impetuous desire for a ‘lucid materiality’ that contrasts the murky ones in China. It will demonstrate how the HK-China borderland has become a space that attests to China’s problematic development. It argues that the long queue of Chinese tourists at the border and the scenes of moving suitcases in HK are indeed physical representations of a material cult featuring the material lacuna in China, just to be mended by border-crossing activities and borderland material connections.

Citation Format(s)

The Chinese material cult and cross-border tourism in postcolonial Hong Kong. / CHAN, Yuk Wah.

2016. Paper presented at 5th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review