2 minutes estimated reading time
The yellow economic cycle has manifested itself as a positive boycott.
The anti ELAB protest movement in Hong Kong exposed the fracture lines between pro-Beijing (blue) and pro-Hong Kong sides (yellow). Some of Hong Kong business community came out and criticised the protestors. This resulted in consumers boycotting their business.
The classic example of this was when Annie Wu criticised Hong Kong protestors. Wu’s father James co-founded Maxim’s Caterers Limited. Maxim’s is has a wide range of restaurants for all budgets. It also owns bakeries, provides catering for universities and businesses. Maxim’s even has a joint venture with Starbucks. Starbucks coffee shops in Hong Kong and southern China are run by this joint venture called Coffee Concepts.
Mainland businesses, especially Chinese state-owned enterprises like China Mobile and Bank of China were defaced by protestors. McDonalds restaurants in Hong Kong and China are majority owned by CITIC – a Chinese state-owned investment company.
Garden Bakery’s Life bread ended up becoming a yellow brand by default when it was criticised by members of the Hong Kong Police. Hong Kong protestors rallied around and even brought along loaves to demonstrations.
Consumers bought everyday products that weren’t made in China and shared the product and its country of origin online. This becomes quite tricky as products from western brands like Wrigley chewing gum or pair of Nike sneakers could be made in China.
It’s particularly interesting as it raises questions about long term perception of quality. Back before the protests when I was living in Hong Kong LG and Samsung smartphones being sold advertised with pride that they were made in Korea. It was a similar story with high-end Sony TV sets. #AnywhereButChina channels China’s political and quality related issues in one meme.
Solidarity with their customers
Many small businesses in Hong Kong started to do what they could for their young customers. And the customers paid them back with loyalty. By trying spend their money only in yellow businesses and avoid blue ones by creating a yellow economic cycle.
Online assets were created to point customers in the right direction. Here is one of the posters that have been circulating on Twitter. The use of QRcodes is much more common in east Asia than Europe. The code takes you through to a Google Maps overlay of Hong Kong featuring Yellow businesses which would be preferable to shop and eat at. Green businesses which are preferable to blue businesses. Blue businesses will be avoided wherever possible.
Reviews of yellow shops and restaurants on review sites like Open Rice have been poisoned by pro-government supporters placing bad reviews and protestors piling in to defend their yellow economic circle members. At its worst, even the most hardened Wikipedia editor would be daunted by the pitched battles going on.