HK mooncakes get a protest makeover
Published on: Saturday, September 14, 2019
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Mooncakes adorned with a popular slogan from recent pro-democracy protests, being prepared for the annual mid-autumn festival.
HONG KONG: At the back of her tiny shop, Hong Kong baker Naomi Suen pulls out a fresh tray of mooncakes—each one sporting popular slogans from recent pro-democracy protests.

The cakes are a contemporary political twist on a gift traditionally given during the annual mid-autumn festival at a time when Hong Kong is convulsing with unprecedented unrest.

Bakeries at this time of year are packed with boxes of the dense pastries, commonly filled with a heavy sweet concoction of lotus seed and egg yolks.

The tops often have intricate Chinese character designs detailing the brand or the filling inside.

But Suen’s mooncakes have different kinds of messages printed on them such as “Hong Kong People”, “No withdrawal, no dispersal” and “Be Water”.

All are chants heard on Hong Kong’s streets in the last three months, as huge crowds come out to protest eroding freedoms after two decades of rule by Beijing. 

The last phrase—“Be Water”—is a reference to local kung fu legend Bruce Lee’s philosophy of being unpredictable, a style the leaderless protest has adopted with relish during its frequent street battles with the police.

Suen, who used to be a fashion designer, inherited the bakery from her grandfather.

Over the years she has gained a reputation for producing eye-catching and often gently subversive mooncakes that particularly appeal to younger customers.

The cakes are often given to family members during the festival and Suen said she hoped the protest messages would “spread happiness” and encourage understanding between different generations. 

“These mooncakes might bind the younger and older generations into something larger and give strength for the movement,” she told AFP. 

The mid-autumn festival, which began Friday night, is one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar. –AFP


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