HONG KONG • Two men are set to be charged with manslaughter on Thursday (Oct 22) over the fatal bashing of a Chinese tourist during a "forced shopping" tour in Hong Kong, an incident that drove Beijing to make a rare call for the territory to protect the rights of mainland visitors.
Mr Miao Chunqi, 53, who was on a three-day trip to Hong Kong and Macau with his colleague, was beaten unconscious on Monday by four men outside the D2 Jewellery shop in Kowloon where he and his tour mates were taken shopping by their guide, the South China Morning Post reported.
His colleague, Ms Zhang Lixia, 53, reportedly did not wish to purchase anything from the shop and had an argument with Ms Deng Haiyan, their mainland tour group leader.
The verbal spat between the two women quickly turned physical and Ms Deng was slapped in the fracas. Mr Miao, a contractor from north- eastern Heilongjiang province, stepped in to mediate but was pushed outside the shop where he was attacked by four men. He died a day later in a hospital.
A police source told the newspaper that no serious injuries were found on his body and an autopsy would be carried out.
"We were told he had been in good health. We are not ruling out the possibility his head hit the floor during the alleged assault," the source was quoted as saying.
The two men arrested - a Hong Kong tour guide, 44, and a mainland tour group leader, 32 - will appear in court in Kowloon today, Xinhua reported. Ms Deng and Ms Zhang, who had been arrested for fighting in a public place, are out on bail.
Two other suspects are believed to have fled Hong Kong.
In a rare statement issued the day after Mr Miao's death, the China National Tourism Administration urged the Hong Kong authorities to take "measures to protect the rights of mainland tourists".
Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung told reporters this was the Chinese territory's first case of a fatal attack on a mainland tourist, and feared it might affect mainland group visits to Hong Kong.
Mr Tung said the council has demanded a report from the travel agency, Tian Ma International (Hong Kong) Travel.
But Tian Ma insisted this was a dispute among mainland tourists and had nothing to do with the agency, Apple Daily reported.
There have been numerous complaints from mainland visitors about being forced by their tour guides to buy things from shops where guides would earn commissions, said Mr Tung. He added that this practice is forbidden and tour guides will lose their licences if they get caught.
In 2010, a 65-year-old retired national table tennis player died from a heart attack after quarrelling with his guide during a forced shopping tour in Hong Kong.