Clothing brand Chickeeduck leaves Hong Kong

HONG KONG: A Hong Kong clothing company that has backed democracy with colorful and ironic cartoons on Thursday announced it would close its stores next year, citing “unprecedented harassment” from officials and political opponents .

Cute cartoon animals have been at the heart of Chickeeduck since its founding in 1990 and as protests for democracy have rocked the city in recent years, it has adopted designs that subtly supported the movement.

China is reshaping Hong Kong into its own authoritarian image using a national security law that has crushed dissent and is continuing a campaign to purge any individual or business deemed unpatriotic.

“Over the past 18 months, Chickeeduck has suffered unprecedented harassment from unidentifiable malicious forces,” owner Herbert Chow wrote in a statement announcing that the company would exit the Hong Kong market by the second half. from 2022.

The statement cited investigations into factories and suppliers on the Chinese mainland, stores struggling to renew their leases, threats of phone calls to staff as well as investigations and spot checks by several government departments of Hong Kong.

At first glance, Chickeeduck’s contraband cartoons may seem innocuous.

They include cushions with yellow birds holding umbrellas alongside “I love HK” speech bubbles and canvas bags featuring five ducklings swimming on one side and a chicken carrying a flag on the other.

But for those familiar with Hong Kong’s recent tumultuous politics, popular conceptions were a clear nod to the city’s democratic movement, which is now being swept away by China’s crackdown on dissent.

Chow did not hide his message.

The tote bag, for example, was a reference to the popular protest slogan “Five demands, not one less”.

Other articles bear unmistakable resemblances to cartoons of pro-democracy protesters showing the yellow helmets and gas masks they wore when confronting police.

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