A Hong Kong children’s clothing store that refused to remove a pro-democracy statue has been ordered to move out of a Tsuen Wan mall.
Property giant New World Development informed Herbert Chow, founder of Chickeeduck, via email on Monday that the shop’s contract will not be extended and that it will have to close within 21 days, according to In-Media.
“[I am] well and truly [feeling the] political suppression of real estate companies,” Chow said. He added that he hopes Hongkongers can “see clearly” that New World Development’s move is “exactly the same” as the government’s.
The Chickeeduck outlet, located in Tsuen Wan mall D Park, made local headlines earlier this month when mall management warned the store to remove the two-meter tall fixture. The statue portrays a female demonstrator wearing a helmet, respirator and goggles while holding a “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” flag.
Chow refused, vowing to keep the statue there. “We’ve never had the same complaint putting up Easter eggs or a Christmas tree … I guess this really is a concern for the landlord, who I have yet to meet,” he told South China Morning Post, adding that he “support[s] democracy for sure.”
While Chow has not proclaimed Chickeeduck to be a “yellow shop,” pro-democracy demonstrators have labeled it as such. (A “yellow shop” is protest speak for a business that has openly supported the city’s social movement—for example by displaying protest-related paraphernalia or taking part in strike action.) The weekend of the controversy, the Chickeeduck outlet saw a jump in sales as crowds showed up to support the store.
New World Development is one of Hong Kong’s largest property conglomerates, with ownership of a portfolio of shopping malls, offices and buildings in the city. It also manages seven hotels in the territory, including Rosewood, the Grand Hyatt and Novotel Citygate, as well as a number in China and Southeast Asia.
Founded in 1998, Chickeeduck is known for its relatively affordable kidswear and has 13 outlets across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. It opened its D2 Place store in the summer of 2017.