Hong Kong national security police on Thursday searched a newly opened shop in Tsuen Wan where a graffiti-style display emblazoned over the entrance appeared to evoke a banned protest slogan.
The shop was an outlet of the children’s clothing chain Chickeeduck, which has previously found itself tangled in political controversy – as well as disputes with its landlords – over its display of statues honouring anti-government protesters at other locations.
The brand’s founder, Herbert Chow Siu-lung, said he was at the shop when officers went there to serve a search warrant at about 4pm, while members of the Police Tactical Unit stood guard outside.
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Officers left soon after 6pm without making any seizures or arrests.
Chow characterised the operation as an effort to spread “white terror”, adding he was “not scared”.
A police spokesman confirmed officers carried out the search after receiving a report about an alleged violation of the national security law, adding no arrests had been made.
Another police source said the raid was focused on the jumbled, graffiti-style writing over the outlet’s front door, in which the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” could be made out.
The slogan, a common refrain during 2019’s anti-government protests, has since been declared by authorities to be a violation of the Beijing-imposed security law, which bans acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Even though no arrests were made and nothing was seized, the source said the raid served as a “warning”.
The police action came on the heels of reports about the shop in pro-Beijing media.
The Tsuen Wan store also displayed a larger-than-life statue of a protester wearing a helmet, goggles and a respirator, and holding aloft a plush duckling.
A previous version of the statue displayed at other Chickeeduck outlets depicted a similarly attired protester holding an umbrella in one hand and a black flag in the other, also bearing the slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times”.
Controversy over the earlier statue forced a Chickeeduck outlet to move last year after the management of the D-Park shopping centre in Tsuen Wan demanded the store remove it, later asking the business to vacate the premises entirely.
The display reappeared at the tmtplaza mall in Tuen Mun, where it again drew the ire of the landlord. It was subsequently moved to New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, which also asked the shop there to take it down.
Last September, shopping mall K11 Musea in Tsim Sha Tsui became the latest to take legal action against Chickeeduck, accusing it of a breach of its tenancy agreement over the display.