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Sigh...

On the other hand, perhaps shutting down commerce in a working class neighborhood, even if triad-infested*, was not the best move, tactically. How about massive voter signups?

NOTE * And, for people who owed the triads money and had their incomes shut off, even lethal.

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MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

I think you might have misunderstood the tweet (understandably, as it's missing context). The crowd of protesters were pro-Umbrella Revolution; the chant of "Shopping" is meant to be ironic. Earlier that day, the Chief Executive CY Leung had gone on TV and urged Hong Kong residents to go shopping in Mongkok now that it was "clear". The protesters decided to do a slow walk down Sai Yeung Choi street (which is normally a pedestrian street), and other adjoining streets like Soy Street en masse; when the police tried to shove them aside, they yelled: "But we're going shopping!"

More context: Mongkok was once a working class shopping area but it has transformed into a center for the mainland "shoppers" (mostly parallel traders) who come to buy items of little interest to locals: gold, baby formula, expensive and exotic Chinese medicinal herbs and patent medicines. Part of the impetus to Occupy Mongkok is that the once vibrant local neigborhood has become, thanks to the tycoons, HKSAR government policy and of course China's encouragement, into a shopping mall for mainland Chinese. The little mom and pop stores that sell useful things or cheap good food have been shoved out by the high rents. Only Triad and tycoon-backed businesses can afford to pay the astronomical rents in Mongkok.

So it was not a completely daft idea to occupy the Mongkok area at all, since it hits so many of the flashpoints that ticked off the occupiers to begin with. Tactically, the narrow streets and alleys of the area make it a difficult place for police to operate, as well.

The protesters did not shut down commerce in the area, by the way. I saw lots of shopping going on in the area whenever I was there. Oh, the gold dealers bitched and moaned to the press, but the anti-corruption China policy has made their business suck for months before Occupy started. Some businesses (like McDonalds and other chain food shops) actually INCREASED business because of the heavier traffic and demand.

Submitted by lambert on

Somewhere along the line I plucked the irony out of the twitter stream, but I should have circled back and corrected this post. Today:

Although the Mong Kok camp was "cleared" by the police, the students return for a "shop in." Interesting confluence, then, between St Louis and Hong Kong, both attacking the consumer end of the global supply chain (though in ways appropriate to each situation).

I hadn't understood the contradictions of Mongkok from the coverage -- grittier than Admiralty was my takeaway, so now I see. This sounds like gentrification with Chinese characteristics:

Part of the impetus to Occupy Mongkok is that the once vibrant local neigborhood has become, thanks to the tycoons, HKSAR government policy and of course China's encouragement, into a shopping mall for mainland Chinese. The little mom and pop stores that sell useful things or cheap good food have been shoved out by the high rents. Only Triad and tycoon-backed businesses can afford to pay the astronomical rents in Mongkok.

So it was not a completely daft idea to occupy the Mongkok area at all, since it hits so many of the flashpoints that ticked off the occupiers to begin with. Tactically, the narrow streets and alleys of the area make it a difficult place for police to operate, as well.

I worried that the small shops would be hurt, but now I see there are worse forces hurting them.

It's also interesting to see that Mainlanders will be getting their own views of the protest (for good or ill). I wonder if that had anything to do with the choice of venue?

("Shopping" seems to be ... a thing. Like with ObamaCare.)