The Atlantic

The Blurring Boundaries Between Hong Kong and Mainland China

Chinese investment in Hong Kong’s infrastructure comes at a cost.
Source: Zhang Wei / China News Service / VCG via Getty

HONG KONG—Lau Wing Yin has a curious weekend pastime. He slips through malls and stakes out bus depots on the northwest corner of Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest island. Armed with his mobile phone, he hunts for illegal tour guides, collecting photo evidence to turn over to police—what he believes is his part in curbing the sudden and swelling inflow of mainland-Chinese day-trippers here.

It was not always like this. Lantau was once a haven for pirates and, later, anti-Japanese fighters during World War II, but the island saw a surge of construction in the late 1990s as a new airport was developed. Even today, only around 45,000 people in Tung Chung—a Lantau neighborhood near a bay that flows into the South China Sea—which remains relatively quiet compared with Hong Kong’s bustling, frenetic center. Marked by hills covered with thick vegetation and capped with meadows, the island is home to several popular hiking

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