Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

In Hong Kong, local entrepreneurs champion the pro-democracy cause

Rice pig guide sticker via Twitter.

A new restaurant and shopping guide in Hong Kong is helping citizens identify shops that support the anti-government protests.

The guide is called the “Hong Kong’s Rice Pig Guide” (米豬蓮). Twitter user @Dystopia992 explained what it's about:

Initiatives such as those have sprung up in the groundswell of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, which many believe could not have lasted for so long without the support of the middle class and entrepreneurs.

On June 12, when the Hong Kong Legislative Council was scheduled to deliberate on the now-withdrawn extradition bill, more than a hundred small and medium-sized companies closed their businesses so that their employees could attend the protests. The first citywide general strike on August 5 was also backed by hundreds of small business owners, along with the trade unions, including airlines’ flight attendant unions. And private car owners have frequently helped protesters exit the demonstration sites.

The middle class and the business sectors are also helping protesters financially. Many have donated to, for example, the 612 Fund and the Spark Alliance to provide legal, medical and other aids to those injured or arrested. Both funds have raised over 10 million US dollars over a few months through crowdfunding and street donations.

Shop and restaurant owners, as well as wholesale buyers, have also joined forces to donate food coupons and import protection gear for protesters who aren't able to afford it.

Since August, a number of restaurants have openly supported demonstrators by offering free meals to students, and the online shop HKongs Mall was set up to provide employment for those who had been arrested and then released on bail.

The yellow economic circle

Protesters began calling the supportive businesses “yellow shops” and are urging citizens to spend their money on them. Simultaneously, they have called for a boycott of pro-China establishments, such as the restaurants owned by the Maxim Caterers group.

The collection of the pro-democracy shops is now known as the “yellow economic circle”. Twitter user @Dystopia992 explains:

With the average individual monthly expense in Hong Kong totaling about HK$9,253 in 2018 (approximately US$1,187 dollars), many believe that the city's economic power is a potent weapon to bring about meaningful political change.

On Radio Free Asia, political analyst Kay Lam explained the potential effect of the yellow economic circle:

中共早就實行了「紅色經濟圈」,早就強制商家與藝人親中親共,對任何在中國有生意者,都要實行政治審查多年;紅色經濟圈以官方推動,其威力遠比起民間自發的強…反之所謂黃色經濟圈,是靠「反送中」運動令更多香港市民的政治醒覺,反杯葛這些親共的藝人與商家…透過黃色經濟圈反制,最起碼的即時效果,就是令不少原本親共的商家與藝人,都起碼回到「悶聲發大財」,減少或甚至拒絕參加,親政府的政治活動…

The CCP has already set up the “red economic circle” and compelled businessmen and entertainment artists to express their loyalty. Anyone who does not toe the line would be censored. The “red economic circle” is initiated by state power, it is more effective and powerful than other initiatives (…). The so-called yellow economic circle is the result of the people’s political awakening triggered by the anti-extradition protests. Now, people are actively boycotting the pro-Beijing businesses and artists. One immediate effect of the yellow economic circle is to generate counter political pressure that compels businessmen and artists to have a second thought before they choose to participate in pro-government propaganda (…).

However, others are hesitant that the circle could result in isolating the yellow businesses from the mainstream economy. Finance news columnist Chow Hin gave some strategic advice to pro-democracy firms:

黃色經濟圈要形成優勢,就要不排斥藍色的客人,更加要歡迎藍色的錢,愈多愈好。然而,在聘請員工方面,卻是專門請黃色的申請者,在消費方面,則是專門光顧黃店。如此一來,方能造成黃色經濟圈的優勢。

The yellow economic circle should not exclude blue (pro-establishment) customer, they should welcome blue money, the more the better. However, when they hire staff, they should favor the yellow ones. Also, buy from the yellow. This is the key to the success of the yellow economic circle.

Building a society of conscience

One of the most well-known yellow shops in Hong Kong is Lung Mun Cafe, which has five branches across the city. Its owner Cheung Chun Kit started to provide assistance to protesters after the daughter of one of his employees was arrested. In the process, he became familiar with many young protesters. Some had strained relationships with their parents and had no place to go, others had lost their jobs, and many were struggling to support themselves.

To help them out, he set up an assistance center to collect donations, such as clothes or food coupons. He also helped protesters produce handmade items to be sold at the cafes. Currently, the center has 12 protesters hired as full-time staff. Others work as temporary staff and are paid at a rate of approximately 8 US dollars per hour. Cheung described his work as an initiative to build a “society of conscience”:

…有好多『良心老闆』、『良心導師』可以俾機會年輕人,好多『良心髮型屋』、『良心電工』俾黃絲居民光顧,然後佢哋又捐返某個百份比嘅營業額落嚟。如果我哋可以形成一個有足夠財力養活 200 萬人嘅社群,仲有咩走唔過去呢?

I want to see many businessmen or mentors with a conscience to help out these young people to set up hair salons or electronic shops that are run by conscience. These shops can then donate a percentage of their income to support one and others. If we have the capability and capacity to sustain the living of 2 million community members, we can overcome all kinds of difficulties.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site