Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hong Kong Culture = Hong Kong Identity

Food stalls selling street food are a part of Hong Kong culture
People are still talking about what happened on Monday night in Mongkok and it turns out a group of people was also trying to clear out illegal hawkers in Tuen Mun last night. There were some violent clashes, but not on the scale of Mongkok.

Some wonder why the authorities are being so heavy handed with these hawkers, who were carrying on a tradition that's been going on for practically a century, operating only on the first three days of Chinese New Year.

Why make such a big fuss about this now? Has some bigwig complained and so the government is responding with a hard line? Or is there an underlying message that the Leung Chun-ying administration will not tolerate any kind of illegal activities?

A food hawker selling stinky tofu in Mongkok
If that is the case, then why not crack down on subdivided flats, illegal building structures in the New Territories and money laundering? Aren't those more serious than some food vendors trying to make some extra money to feed themselves and their families?

In Leung King housing estate in Tuen Mun, apparently a self-proclaimed hawker control team clashed with illegal street food vendors and their supporters last night. The conflict began simmering around January 21 when a renovated wet market, run by the controversial company Link Reit, opened at the estate.

One of the hawkers explained that Link Reit increased the rent after the renovation and promised the cooked food stalls there would not be any hawkers.

Supposed hawker control group clearing stalls in Tuen Mun
Link Reit, the police, nor the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department would vouch for the self-proclaimed hawker control group so it is unclear who the members are.

Nevertheless, the hawkers in Tuen Mun seem determined to continue their trade, though traditionally tonight would be the last night to do so before most restaurants and eateries reopen tomorrow.

Both incidents seem to spark more concerns about Hong Kong's culture eroding, and it directly relates to people's identity as Hongkongers. They feel that with the government clamping down on these hawkers, it is like an attack on themselves, and so they are doing whatever they can to preserve whatever is left.

So this may lead to something positive -- people might be more conscious about supporting local eateries and shops as a kind of protest against big corporations and multinationals that have monopolized Hong Kong.

This idea has been happening in the last few years due to mom-and-pop shops closing due to high rents, but perhaps this time will be the tipping point?


  1. How ironic that Michelin chose to start recognizing HK's amazing street food stalls at the same time the Chinese Govt and its cronies are tearing them down.

    1. HI ChopSuey -- sorry for the late reply but yes! Interesting observation!