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Social protest in Hong Kong

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

 Hong Kong residents have long mastered the art of mass protest, galvanizing as swiftly and civilly as they work. Lately, some have taken this finesse for discontent to a new level – using Facebook, Paypal, Flickr, YouTube, and online forums to make their grievances with mainland China more acutely communicated.

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Long-simmering tensions erupted when Dolce & Gabbana reportedly stopped curious Hong Kong passers-by from taking photographs of its shop in January. Newspaper photographers reported they, too, had been stopped, and quoted a guard there saying only mainland Chinese could take pictures. After coordinating on Facebook, hundreds picketed the store to protest what they called discrimination.

In February they took it a step further. Eight hundred people used social media sites to raise $12,900 in five days to take out a full-page newspaper ad decrying the mainland Chinese as disrespectful to Hong Kong’s culture and a drain on resources, particularly as mainland women giving birth here occupy oversubscribed maternity wards. It called on the government to protect local needs.

“Social media has always been there. Somehow, this time, its use was especially big,” said the initiator of the controversial ad, who asked not to be identified.

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