China

Ten arrested in Hong Kong over baby milk formula curbs

  • 1 March 2013
  • From the section China
Baby milk formula are displayed inside a pharmacy in Hong Kong
Image caption Hong Kong residents have complained of shortages of baby milk formula

Ten people have been arrested in Hong Kong under new regulations restricting the amount of baby milk formula that can be taken from the territory into mainland China.

Authorities have banned travellers leaving Hong Kong with more than 1.8 kg (4lb) of formula to prevent shortages.

Hong Kong formula is sought-after by mainlanders worried about food safety.

In 2008, six babies died in China after drinking milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine.

The 10 arrested on Friday were two Hong Kong citizens and eight mainland Chinese, officials said.

Shortages in baby milk formula caused by traders and tourists have worsened tensions between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese.

Hong Kong resident and father of two Bruce Lui told the BBC's Newshour programme that "every morning there are queues outside those shops".

"We have to walk from this district to another district, from this pharmacy to another pharmacy... at least ten of them, and then we came back with just one can or none," he said.

Last month, pharmacies across the territory ran out of the most popular brands of baby food, the BBC's Jennifer Pak reports from Hong Kong.

Officials blamed the shortage on mainland Chinese buyers.

Government officials hope that this latest step will prevent a repeat of this, our correspondent says.

People caught smuggling milk powder will face fines of up to HK$500,000 ($64,000; £43,000) and risk up to two years in prison.

More on this story