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Cheung Chun-kit, 40, owner of pro-democracy Lung Mun Cafe chain, sponsors vocational training for young protesters, as part of the “economic circle of conscience”. The #YellowEconomicCircle is growing, helping to foster a parallel society of resistance.…
A thread on the #YellowEconomicCircle in #HK, provoked by comments by out-to-lunch 'expert' economists.

YEC starts with two very basic questions:

‘Why should I give my money to businesses that side with my oppressor?’


‘Who should I then give my money to?’
So there are 2 components: who to withhold money from & who to give money to. These q's, when boiled down, are the ones every consumer faces all the time. The #YellowEconomicCircle answers them politically. In a place like #HK, economics & politics are always very closely related
The first q: ‘Why should I give my money to businesses that side with my oppressor?’ Some ‘expert’ economists say boycott will have no economic effect. Perhaps not alone, at this early stage, but #HK people are getting used to the concept, as much social & cultural as economic.
The #HK economy is controlled by CCP-allied businesses. One economist says it’s very hard for yellow businesses to even enter HK’s ‘4 key industries’, finance, tourism, trading & logistics. This is true but it’s not true that those industries haven’t been affected by the protests
Tourism's been massively affected. Many #HK people'd be pleased if Chinese tourists never came back. This was a sector promoted by govt (ie, by vested undemocratic political interests) & reorienting HK's economy away from dependence on Chinese tourism would be no bad thing at all
The finance industry, as elsewhere in the world, is a key driver of gross economic inequality. How many HK people really benefit from it? Anecdotal evidence suggests many investors are fleeing HK for ‘safer shores’. So, again the protests have had an effect on business confidence
It’s not a matter of yellow businesses entering these industries that have been politically promoted by powerful vested interests & aren’t just the result of a ‘free market’. It’s a matter of reorienting the economy. The protests've been a useful start, but only a start.
Most yellow businesses are small & ‘expert’ economists scoff at the idea that the #YellowEconomicCircle can ever affect the economy, but the whole concept has wide-ranging cultural & political implications as well. A whole new parallel society of resistance is being created.
In this parallel society, people live intentionally according to values of democracy, freedom & human rights. Parallel societies have usually developed in places like Kosovo where a minority’s been excluded. In HK, the majority’s been frozen out of political & economic power.
How does this work on the ground? In my neighborhood, everyone knows which shops are yellow, blue & green. We in the freedom struggle try as much as we can to patronize yellow shops & avoid blue shops. We try to avoid modes of transport like MTR & Cathay Pacific.
We don’t have bank accounts with Chinese state-owned banks & try to avoid behemoths like HSBC, which quasi-monopolizes much of the HK market. When we go to the rest of the city, we try to be aware of what we’re buying & from whom.
Are we impacting the economy? Surely the protests have had a substantial impact. Our consumer choices in addition, whether they impact the economy now, are about changing habits of thought & action, reorienting our lives to make them more thoroughly & consistently democratic
#YellowEconomicCircle is part of a comprehensive strategy involving 1) protests, 2) grassroots democracy, community work, participation in the rigged electoral system & 3) international advocacy. Together, they have to do w living according to our values in all areas of our lives
People like CY Leung scoff at the #YellowEconomicCircle, saying, We get everything from China, even water; there’s no avoiding it. To which YEC says, That’s just the problem. Weaning ourselves from economic over-reliance on China won't happen overnight, but we have to get started
Politicians like CY Leung made political decisions to economically tie HK to China in the first place & now they talk about it as if that's 'natural' & inevitable. Financial & geographical infrastructure was erected by the Chinese & #HK govts to create the economic status quo.
Weaning HK from China economically isn’t so hard in some respects: lots of people avoid Chinese products for health reasons. The yellow grocer in my neighborhood supplies as much produce as possible from elsewhere (an environmental disaster, but that’s another story).
The #YellowEconomicCircle just says, Look at the economic forces in our lives, study them, see how they’re tied to politics already (it’s not the YEC that’s making the connection, it’s already there), what do you think about that, what can you do about it?
So #YellowEconomicCircle’s part of the efflorescence of a culture of self-determination that's blossomed since the protests began. Will it be successful? Too soon to say. Like much born from the protests, it’s fragile. The point is...
...along w the 151 new unions & pro-democracy District Councils & all kinds of other ways, people, inspired by the protests, are rethinking & rejigging their relationships to each other & those in power. We are making a start in every sector of society, not just on the streets.
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