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Hong Kong: Protest Against Luxury Brand to Defend Local Identity

Thousands of people protested outside Dolce & Gabbana's flagship store on Canton Road, the most crowded tourist area in Hong Kong, yesterday on January 8, 2012.

People gathered, agitated by security guards for the Italian fashion store's security guard who recently banned a local Hong Kong photographer from taking a photo from the sidewalk in front of the store, claiming that only mainland Chinese tourists could do so.

Later, the fashion store explained to local newspapers that the policy is designed to stop people from infringing upon the company's intellectual property rights stored within their window displays. However, the store did not explain why there exist separate policies for dealing with local residents and tourists from mainland China.

Strong reactions to the news spread quickly through Facebook and a call was made to hold a flash mob on Friday for a collective photo-taking action outside D&G to protest the discriminatory policy. Within a few days, more than 17,722 people had clicked to support the event page. The YouTube video below shows the scene on Sunday, as protesters asked D&G to make a public apology:

The crowd gathered outside the shop for more than 8 hours. Below is a bird's-eye view photo of the protest scene:

<a href="http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150502620537420&amp;set=a.141450552419.114417.128982007419&amp;type=1" _mce_href="http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150502620537420&amp;set=a.141450552419.114417.128982007419&amp;type=1">Photo by Mr. Lee on Facebook</a>

Photo by Mr. Lee on Facebook

 

Why are Hong Kong people so angry this time? Professor Wan Chin, an icon for the city's autonomy movement explains [zh] the situation on his Facebook profile:

反對D&G歧視香港人,捍衛香港人的尊嚴,不滿大陸孕婦、大陸遊客和水貨客搞壞香港,是香港人的真感情。我昨日回元朗,婆婆看見電視新聞報道,以為是一般示威抗議,完全不知發生什麼事,但後來知道D&G和海港城只准大陸人影相,禁止香港人拍攝,立即開罵,說商店靠香港人養大,現在討好大陸客,反面無情,豈有此理。她罵到聽唔到口,比我還要激(按:我其實是不激的)。此事說明一切。這是真實的香港人感情。昨日也有好多低下階層的老人家去示威,並接受報紙訪問,也說明一切。

The action is in protest against D&G's discrimination against Hong Kong people, and to defend Hong Kong people's dignity. People here are so angry with the pregnant women, tourists and smugglers from mainland China. They disrupt the social order in Hong Kong. This is the genuine sentiment that Hong Kong people are feeling. Yesterday when I returned back home to Yuen Long, my wife watched the TV and thought it was just another protest. Later she knew that D&G and the Harbour Plaza only allow mainland Chinese to take photos near the mall and ban local Hongkongese from doing so, she was outraged and pointed out that Hong Kong residents have been customers at these malls since they were been built, and now they only care about mainland Chinese tourists and hurting local people's feelings. She was very emotional and could not stop cursing them. This is the real feeling. Yesterday, I saw that some elderly people demonstrated there too.

A protester dressed like Iron Man participated in the protest and explained to local TV that he came down to fight for justice:

<a href="http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s320x320/391051_10150483086068004_691333003_8999644_375276757_n.jpg" _mce_href="http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s320x320/391051_10150483086068004_691333003_8999644_375276757_n.jpg">Photo taken by Be-linda Kwan, Facebook</a>

Photo taken by Be-linda Kwan, Facebook

 

Chan King Fai, a radio host, explains where D&G went wrong [zh]:

什麼是别太D&G?
1:别無常識(市民在街上的活動不由名店後花園的保安干涉);
2:别拜金(迷信掃貴貨的内地豪客才可拍攝);
3:别忘本(名店不要擺一副高高在上的姿態。你佔用了香港這個品牌、佔據了尖沙咀市中心的景觀,才有人流生意。不尊重這地方的人的生活,是忘本)。

What's wrong with D&G?
1. They lack common sense (How can their security guards intervene in citizens’ activities in the street?);
2. They put money first (How can they only allow wealthy mainland Chinese tourists to take pictures outside the shop?)
3. They betray locals and itself (The company is too arrogant. You have your business because you are based in Hong Kong, occupying the center of the city. If you do not respect local people's way of living, you betray your base.)

Yvonne Leung believes [zh] that apart from protesting against discrimination, the ultimate issue is to reclaim the street:

好一個公共空間被商業霸權侵吞、城市過度管理的問題,卻很大程度被演繹為歧視與族群矛盾。難道公平的意義在於,自由行也不許影相,然後大家就收貨?

The issues at stake are of our public space is being occupied by corporations and excessive management of the city. But now it has been overly interpreted as discrimination and an ethnic conflict issue. Will the problem be solved if shopping malls and fashion outlets enforce the same policy with mainland Chinese tourists, banning them from taking photos?

Runaway Szeto tries to create a debate topic at Golden Forum [zh] by questioning the city's values:

D&G事件根本就係嘥9氣!

點解香港會有咁多名牌鋪頭?點解香港會有咁多人用名牌?點解香港賣水貨名牌二手名牌賣到可以上市?就係本身香港人愛名牌、貪慕虛榮、骨子裡就愛階級歧視、資產歧視,愛用名牌去define別人的”層次”, 用名牌去告訴別人自己的”層次”。

現在, D&G就告訴香港人: 花得起錢的才夠”層次”, 我們只歡迎夠”層次”的人. 香港人已經不夠”層次”了…

今日D&G的態度, 根本正正是香港人的日常生活態度, 不過, 現在是到了自己被階級化的的時候, 心裡不好受, 就去高舉 “眾生平等”的旗幟。

還跑去包圍人幫人做宣傳…難道他的生意額會因此下降嗎? 正一傻的嗎9

掉返轉, 如果香港人返到內地, 有個地方只畀香港人用, 唔畀內地人用, 香港人一定會暗爽, 如果內地人用行動去抗議, 香港人仲會笑人、話人冇文化、話人窮

香港人, 今日到你地俾人笑鳥! 因果呀!

The D&G issue does not make any sense.

Why do you think the city has so many luxury brands? And why do Hong Kong people love these brands so much? Why are even second-handed luxury brand stores able to make such huge profit and get listed on the stock exchange? Hong Kong people love luxury brands, we are hypocritical. Deep down, we discriminate against lower classes and proletarians. We love to define others by the brands they were and tell others about our own “class” through luxury brands.

Now D&G tells Hong Kong people: You have to pay for your “class”, we only welcome a certain “class” of people. And Hong Kong people are not in that “class” anymore.

The attitude D&G has is also our attitude. Of course, now we are being discriminated against as a class and we feel bad about it. Only now do we uphold the banner of “equality for all”.

Do you think they will lose money with your flash mob action? Don't be silly, you're just helping D&G to build up its classy brand image?

If Hong Kong people travelled to mainland China, and there was a place where they only welcomed Hong Kong people and excluded mainland people, I am sure that Hong Kong people would be happy deep down their hearts. And if mainlanders protested against it, you would laugh, saying that they are not cultivated and poor.

It's due to your own karma that you are being mocked today.

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