Chinese Democracy was supposed to be the title of a Guns ‘N Roses album, but these days it refers to the PR debacle surrounding Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana in Hong Kong.
Last Sunday, captured in the video above, a security guard in Hong Kong barred a customer from taking photos of the Dolce & Gabbana store from the sidewalk. Within hours, over 13,000 Chinese Facebook users voiced their anger over what they perceived as Dolce & Gabbana’s regulation of public and private space, after the company said that only mainland tourists and foreigners could photograph its stores.
After voicing concerns on Facebook, over 1000 people showed up to protest in front of the store, forcing it to close early. Some held signs which read “D&G GO Home” and “D&G Dust & Garbage”
So what’s the fuss about? The Wall Street Journal spoke to Chung Kim-wah, director of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policies Studies who said this:
“Since the city’s handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong people have faced a lot of setbacks in their fight for democracy and freedom. As there is no universal suffrage and other political rights, they cling very hard on to what is left for them, such as the fundamental right to enjoy public space.”
Mr. Chung said the incident was also a platform for the locals to express their frustrations over the mainland Chinese, who are playing an increasingly significant role in the city.
“Mainland mothers come to give birth, mainland buyers are buying the most luxurious properties in Hong Kong. The mainland is basically the backbone of our economy. Hong Kong people are afraid that their roles will be increasingly taken over by the mainlanders, but they have nowhere to express this fear,” he said.
In a statement issued on its Facebook page, Harbour City, the shopping mall that houses the D&G flagship store apologized for the inconvenience: “We will learn from the incident and listen to the views of people from different sectors.”
Dolce & Gabbana also issued an apology which read in part, “We wish to underline that our company has not taken part in any action aiming at offending the Hong Kong public.”
That apology may be too late!