Christmas yarn decorations adorning a railing in Causeway Bay have been allowed to stay after Hongkongers rallied online in favour of retaining the handmade artwork.

According to Causeway Bay shopping arcade Fashion Walk, which commissioned the work, the government ordered the removal of the knitted creations on Monday after receiving complaints. On the Facebook page of their handicrafts shop, the artists said that the complaints were all made by the same person.

Fashion Walk said that the government had ordered that the decorations be removed by Sunday, urging fans to “like” the post if they wanted them to stay.

As of Thursday, the post has received over 21,000 likes.

Following the online backlash, the shopping arcade announced Wednesday night that, after discussions with government departments, the authorities said they were not opposed to the festive decorations.

The crocheted yarn adornments, in the shapes of a snowmen, reindeer and Santas, can be found on railings on Kingston Street. The shopping arcade commissioned local “yarn bombers” Billie Ng and Mary Cheung to create them as decorations for the holiday season. According to Ng, they took a month to make.

On Tuesday, the artists used the Facebook page of their handicrafts shop, La Belle Epoque, to urge concerned citizens to call the government’s 1823 hotline and request that the decorations be allowed to remain until after Christmas.

Facebook fans were outraged at the government seemingly catering to the complaints of one person, saying there was no reason why the artwork should be removed.

One commenter said: “I’m not anti-government, but it usually doesn’t do anything about important matters, and only knows how to arrest elderly people selling cardboard – and now it’s messing things up.”

Another wrote: “It’s simply because the government is scared of the person who complained, so it picked the easiest road to take without using their brains to distinguish between black and white. We’ll see how it reacts with so many people complaining back!”

Tang Earthquake, a satirical Facebook account, criticised the government for targeting the artwork, saying that it allows noisy street performers in Mong Kok, but cannot abide the harmless decorations. Chinese-style street dancers on Mong Kok’s Sai Yeung Choi street are often criticised by businesses and residents who complain about the high volume of their performances.

But Wan Chai district councillor Clarisse Yeung said the kerfuffle did not arise due to complaints, but rather due to an error in communication.

The Highways Department told Apple Daily that it did not oppose an initial plan submitted by Fashion Walk to install the decorations, but the shopping arcade did not submit the required details for the plan until November 30 and December 1. It said it told Fashion Walk that it does not oppose the plan.

Clarisse Yeung with the yarn decorations.

The government did not respond to HKFP’s request for comment.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.