Pro-democracy protests continue in Hong Kong six months after they began — with Christmas Day this year bringing demonstrations, riot police and tear gas.
Hundreds of demonstrators, wearing all black with masks, targeted shopping malls and high-traffic shopping areas from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26. Riot police were prompted to close down a mall in a busy tourist district today. Police used tactics such as tear gas and pepper spray in attempts to disperse protesters throughout the week.
In a Facebook post, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam — whose resignation protesters have called for — accused demonstrators of “ruining” Christmas for tourists and members of the general public.
“Many members of the public and tourists coming to Hong Kong were naturally disappointed that their Christmas Eve celebrations have been ruined by a group of reckless and selfish rioters,” Lam wrote. “Such illegal acts have not only dampened the festive mood but also adversely affected local businesses.”
The ongoing protests have led to a decline in Hong Kong’s economy. The Asian business hub entered a recession this October, its first since 2009. Hong Kong reported a 3.2% reduction in gross domestic product for the third quarter compared to the second quarter; retail sales for October dropped 25% year over year.
Luxury fashion is among the most impacted categories, as analysts estimate that Hong Kong accounts for 5% to 10% of global luxury goods sales. It’s not just luxury that’s suffered, however: In a Hong Kong Retail Management Association report released earlier this month, one in 10 Hong Kong retailers (11%) said they would have to close stores within the next month; 97% of retailers said they had experienced financial losses since protests began.
Experts attribute the slide in part to a reduction in tourism. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, tourism dropped 43.7% for October 2019 compared to October 2018.
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