Dolce & Gabbana has reportedly banned Hong Kong citizens from taking pictures of its Hong Kong store, even from the street. The reason? So it can protect its intellectual property. Curiously, the brand allows foreign and mainland Chinese tourists to snap photos. This is a policy that makes no sense — and some believe it has racist motives.
Local Hong Kong paper Apple Daily reported these claims, and a protest was organized on Facebook shortly after. More than 1,000 people gathered outside the store, which was consequently closed because of the obtrusive crowd. As per the Wall Street Journal:
According to other reports, including this one from the Hong Kong Standard, a “well-known mainlander, possibly a government official” was shopping in the store and complained to D&G of photos taken from the street, fearing that they would be posted online and link his shopping trip to corruption. (Last year, a Chinese rail official came under fire after it was revealed he was sporting an expensive luxury watch while at a press conference following the Wenzhou rail disaster.)
Both the shopping mall that houses Dolce & Gabbana, as well as the brand itself, have apologized for offending Hong Kong locals. However, the outrage may very well be a sign of a deeper issue. Explains Chung Kim-wah, director of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policies Studies:
“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.
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.”
Nowhere until now, that is.