HK activists turn to ‘shopping tour’ protests

HK activists turn to ‘shopping tour’ protests

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong may be all but over, but a new form of protest has come up.

It is known as the "shopping tour", with activists taking to the crowded footpaths to convey their political message, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported.

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Participants were quoted as saying that it is different, more fun and a "pleasant change" from living in tents.

They also claimed that it is proving even more effective as a strain on the police.

Every night since last Friday, dozens of protesters have gathered outside a cinema on Sai Yeung Choi Street South.

They watch movie trailers while chanting spontaneous slogans. Then they roam the footpaths, obstructing businesses while evading police.

Before the "tour" starts, the air fills with cries of "gau wu", a Cantonese transliteration of Mandarin's "gou wu", which means "to shop". The expression became popular after a mainland tourist who joined an early anti-Occupy rally told a reporter in Mandarin that she was there to shop.

"Now it's the reverse; we are on the offensive and the cops are put on the defensive," said a semi-retired protester in his 50s who wished to be identified only as Ng.

Having joined the "gau wu" tour nightly since last week, Mr Ng said window shopping was "a lot more fun" than guarding the roadblock outside City Hall in Central, which he has done since the start of the Occupy protests.

'NOT EVEN ILLEGAL'

"This is not even illegal," SCMP quoted him as saying.

Police have taken dozens of people into custody since the "gau wu" tour started. But that has not scared away those determined to "shop".

"The more protests I attend, the more injustice I see," Ms Ada Chan, a former bank employee in her 50s, said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong police yesterday began dismantling the city's main pro-democracy site.

They cleared away tents and barricades after more than two months of rallies, and hauled off protesters, AFP reported.

The dozens making a last stand were the remnants of what once numbered tens of thousands of people at the height of the protest movement, before public support waned.

Some were carried by groups of officers while others were led off on foot.

Those who remained lay on the road shouting, "We are peaceful", "We will not resist" and "I want true democracy".


This article was first published on December 12, 2014.
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