The Times Square shops for at least four brands owned by L’Oreal Group (Lancome’s parent company) have been temporarily closed, possibly to avoid a protest which planned for this afternoon.
According to the SCMP, the Times Square shops for Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Helena Rubinstein, and Shu Uemura have all been closed for the day. At 1pm, a group led by political party League of Social Democrats will convene at Times Square to protest against Lancome’s cancellation of an upcoming concert by singer Denise Ho.
Many in the city believe Lancome’s decision was an act of self-censorship, after state-run media outlet Global Times criticised the brand for “being represented by Hong Kong poison”, in reference to Ho’s outspoken support for Hong Kong and Tibetan independence.
Following Lancome’s swift decision to cancel Ho’s concert, many Hong Kong netizens have threatened to boycott the cosmetics company and its stablemates from L’Oreal Group, including Kiehl’s, the Body Shop, Urban Decay, and others.
On top of local campaigns to boycott L’Oreal, a French citizen has launched an online petition asking L’Oreal Hong Kong’s president and managing director to “reconsider” the decision to cancel Ho’s concert.
The petition, which has been signed by 4,376 people, reads, “We cannot accept French companies bending to the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party!”
The Global Times has since defended Lancome’s decision in an editorial, saying the brand has shown “wisdom” by seeking “commercial gains” from the mainland public, which “boasts a much larger market than Hong Kong”.
Mainland consumers, the article said, have learned how to wield their financial influence to promote their political agendas, and will increasingly shun companies which associate with individuals who “tarnish China’s image”, “no matter if [the companies] are in or outside China”.
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