A man who tried to highlight what’s known as parallel trade in towns bordering Hong Kong was attacked by a group of men on Sunday night and many suspect the assault was carried out by gangsters from the same groups who recently attacked pro-democracy protesters.

Parallel trade involves people from mainland China crossing the border into Hong Kong and buying goods to resell across the border, cashing in on Hong Kong’s lower taxes and the perceived higher quality of some goods.

Ronald Leung Kam-shing, a spokesman for the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, was attacked by a group of men about 11pm on Sunday night in Shatin, the New Territories, while he was walking along the Shing Mun River. Leung lives nearby.

He said someone tapped him on the shoulder from behind. When he turned around, some men sprayed his face with white powder. Then the group of about four or five men attacked him with what was suspected to have been rattan sticks and other objects.

Leung said one of the men called out his name and warned him not to “stir things up” and not to cause trouble, Radio Television Hong Kong reported, adding that the attackers spoke Cantonese with an accent.

There were about 20 marks caused by the sticks on Leung’s back. He also suffered injuries to his head and hip. Leung was sent to a hospital to have his injuries checked.

Ronald Leung Kam-shing. Photo: YouTube

Leung said he had no idea why he was attacked, but he knew there hade been some protests by anti-parallel trade activists recently and some people were intimidated by this.

Leung applied for a march permit in July in Sheung Shui and his group had earlier organized a few anti-parallel trade campaigns.

He admitted he had drunk a few cans of beer before the attack. However, because he was afraid the drinking would affect the statement taken by police, he asked to be sent to a hospital for medical treatment first.

Leung went to Shatin Police Station with a lawyer on Monday afternoon.

The North District Parallel Imports Concern Group opposes the influx of traders from mainland China. Local residents in border towns like Sheung Shui and Fanling say this has disrupted their lives.

A large group of gangsters launched an attack on July 21 in Yuen Long MTR station, some of them triad members, on a pro-democracy group. At least 45 people were injured. The attack was shown live on the news and social media and shocked both the local and international community.

Almost one month after the violent attack, police said they had arrested 28 people for allegedly unlawful assembly, but none were charged.

Read: Hong Kong rocked by armed mob attacks

There have been a number of violent attacks in other districts, including North Point and Tsuen Wan, targetting anti-extradition bill protesters.

Death threats

Last week, three university student leaders said they and their families had received threatening messages including death threats. They were asked to stop causing “chaos in Hong Kong.”

Pang Ka-ho from Hong Kong University’s Student Union Council said he received death threats on Telegram last week, while his family received anonymous phone calls. He reported the threats to police and was suffering severe stress.

Joey Leung from the Baptist University’s student union said she and her family had also been targeted. She received threats on Facebook and the sender listed details of her parents and home address. A flyer with her phone number with curses and insults was found near her home.

Kex Leung from the Education University said his family found some strangers wandering around their flat and even knocked on the door checking where Leung was.