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Hong Kong Protests are Hurting Taxi Drivers

Hong Kong Protests are Hurting Taxi Drivers

The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong has lasted for over a week and there is no sign that it will let up. The ultimatum by the Hong Kong authorities to dissipate by Monday morning has come and gone and the protesters are still there as of this morning. The protesters backed off a bit and opened up some barricades but they still occupy Mong Kok and Admiralty areas of the city.

Time Magazine nicely summarized why the protest is going on and the recent events:

6 Questions You Might Have About Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Pictures taken on 10-5-2014 in Hong Kong.

With this continued presence in two of the busiest parts of Hong Kong, some small business owners have definitely felt the effects. They have seen their business decline. Some business noted that it has been very slow, even worst than the SARS epidemic back in 2008. These are not business that are on the main streets, but a mile or two away from the harbour. The blocked streets have made it hard for customers to walk inland to their location, thus affecting their business.

 

From the Huntington Post: Business Backlash Looms In Occupied Hong Kong

Since Sept. 28, student demonstrators have occupied major streets in the Asian financial hub to demand that the mainland Chinese government not screen candidates for the city’s 2017 elections. Public sympathy for the students surged last Sunday after local police used tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse protesters.

I went to a restaurant just a block from the Central MTR station and they noted that they haven’t seen a drop in business, mostly because they are on the main road. From my walk around Hong Kong last night, Mcdonald’s is the only winner in all of this. There was Mcdonald’s bags and sandwiches everywhere. They are just a few more incidents away from being the Occupy Central’s official sponsor.

Taxi Drivers affected by the Protest

The hardest hit of all small businesses in Hong Kong could be the taxi driver. A sizeable area of Hong Kong Island, from Central out to Causeway Bay have been closed, affecting one of the main tunnels and main streets that connect Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. The blocked roads have made it a nightmare to drive into Hong Kong. On the news this morning, the police chief in Hong Kong suggested that people do not drive into Hong Kong as many roads are still blocked.

From the Huntington Post: Business Backlash Looms In Occupied Hong Kong

Hong Kong taxi driver Wu Man-wai said that his daily income has dropped by around one-third during the occupy demonstrations, as the blocked roads and brawls push many riders to take the subway or stay home. But he still maintains a certain appreciation for demonstrators who have braved rain, heat and violent attacks in pursuit of political reform.

“When people oppose the movement because it disrupts their businesses, they should stand back and think about what the students are fighting for,” said Wu. “I’m not saying the students are always right, but when they are shouldering the responsibilities for society, shouldn’t we as adults support them?”

The thoughts of the taxi driver, who is affected short term by the protests, are forward thinking, and he sees the long term potential of the protest. The taxi driver knows that the protest will end someday and that things will go back to normal, including his job.

The Hong Kong market disruption from to the protest can be seen to mirror that of the market disruption brought on by rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. The protest was born out of local frustration with the political environment in Hong Kong. Rideshare was born out of local frustration with taxis in the US.

The reason why the Wu appreciates the protesters is that they are trying to change the environment in Hong Kong for the better and the effects of the protest will not result in the loss of his job and career. However, the rise of rideshare directly affects taxi drivers. Rideshare are directly competing with taxis such that many are forced to quit the taxi industry. Wu would feel differently about the protest if it means that he will lose his job in a few years.

What do you think about the Occupy Central Movement (or Umbrella Revolution) in Hong Kong? Do you feel bad for that taxi drivers there?

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