Hong Kong cracks down on baby formula trade
HONG KONG (AFP) – A Hong Kong regulation came into force Friday barring people from crossing into mainland China with large quantities of baby formula following chronic shortages which have fuelled anti-Beijing sentiment.
Formula is popular with mainland Chinese because of concerns about the safety of food processed in China after a series of scandals, notably in 2008 when six babies died from drinking milk tainted with the chemical melamine.
The measures prevent people from taking more than 1.8 kilogrammes – or about two cans – of formula across the border, in a bid to crack down on the so-called “parallel traders” who sell the milk powder for a profit in China.
Offenders face a fine of up to HK$500,000 ($65,000) and up to two years in prison, according to a statement by the customs and excise department.
Tensions between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese have soared in recent years, fuelled by an influx of mainland visitors blamed for a host of problems, from a shortage of hospital beds to soaring property prices.