Mainlanders Protest Hong Kong Shopping Disruption

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/03/2014 01:30:00 AM
Shopping! We're always happy when we shop until we drop.
There's interesting side commentary on the ongoing Hong Kong protests that focuses on the responses of visiting mainlanders to ongoing events there. Instead of having a nice, restful holiday during Golden Week in Hong Kong as they planned a few weeks ago, they are instead confronted by the sight of protesting bourgeoisie. Aside from the lack of a hard crackdown apart from the first few hours when students were tear-gassed, other commentary concerns how well-behaved the mainlanders have found the protesters. As it turns out, they are following a script on civil disobedience that does not give the authorities grounds to crack down hard.

Being a rather shallow, sort, however, I was more intrigued by the annoyance caused to the mainlanders on shopping trips to Hong Kong. While Hong Kong shops aren't exactly cheap due to the rents they have to pay, taxes are generally lower than on the mainland, making HK shopping a relative "bargain." Meanwhile, those damn protesters prevent you from going from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central easily as they clog the road and slow down public transportation. How dare them!
Chinese tourists pouring into Hong Kong this week for a shopping holiday are getting an unexpected lesson in democracy from the city’s tens of thousands of protesters demanding free elections. So far, most of them are unimpressed. “We’re just here to go shopping,” says a young woman from Guangzhou, standing with a friend outside of a jewelry store on a shopping street in Mongkok, Kowloon that has been turned into one of several protest sites for demonstrators of Hong Kong’s so-called “Umbrella Revolution.”
We then get to the commerce-killing qualities of the protesters:
The arrival of thousands of Chinese tourists for the country’s annual one-week holiday at the beginning of October—known as Golden Week for the amount of shopping and leisure travel that takes place—is one opportunity to start that process. One woman handing out leaflets on Canton Road in another Kowloon neighborhood, Tsim Sha Tsui, where protesters have blocked traffic in between stores like Coach, Fendi, Dolce & Gabanna, Prada said mainland shoppers had only come up to ask for a bottle of water or some of the snacks on reserve for the protesters. They didn’t inquire about the demonstrations...

But Chinese tourists in Hong Kong today seemed not only surprised to see their favorite shopping districts overtaken by activists, but also annoyed, and critical of the demonstrators. Shoppers hustled by a group of students, young professionals, and older local residents sitting along Canton Road, listening to speeches and folding yellow ribbons, a symbol of the protest. “Too much democracy can get chaotic,” said a man from China’s northern Shandong province, who would only name his surname, Ma, as he and his family observed the group.
Meanwhile, global equity markets are getting all shook up by the events in Hong Kong. Why don't we hear about the rights of international shoppers to buy luxury goods during regular store hours? Certainly it's a human rights violation at least on par with what these busybodies are complaining about. While the protests are not finished yet, businesses expect these disruptions to have taken their toll in what would otherwise would have been a season of selling:
Louis Chan, chief executive of the residential division at Centaline Property Agency Ltd., one of Hong Kong's biggest real-estate companies, said he expects the protests to put potential buyers off viewing new properties. He said the number of property viewings on Hong Kong island fell 50% over the past weekend, when protesters blocked the streets. "I think the overall property sales will drop by 30% this week compared with early September if the street protest continues," Mr. Chan said. Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential department, said number of property viewings in its Wan Chai and Causeway Bay branches fell 50% in the past two days, compared with a week earlier
And, of course, there's retail:
“It’s still too early to gauge how much business we lose during the Golden Week,” Chow Sang Sang sales operations director Dennis Lau said in an interview. “It may be a headache for some shoppers trying to go to districts such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay as buses and taxis aren’t running.” The economic loss for shopping malls and office buildings is at least HK$40 billion ($5.2 billion), China Central Television reported yesterday, citing business associations. The protests aim to paralyze transportation, harm the rule of law and disrupt business to pressure the government into accepting “various unreasonable demands,” CCTV reported.

...the Man's too big...the Man's too strong