A factory in mainland China has allegedly received a government order banning them from printing merchandise with certain words and images, including the name and logo of Hong Kong pro-democracy group Demosisto.

Demosisto Chairman Ivan Lam said on Wednesday that the group was seeking manufacturers for its products, which includes a tote bag bearing a slogan against political apathy. One Hong Kong company turned them down, and another firm only accepted the order after Demosisto removed its name and logo from the bag’s design.

Lam said that the second company – based in Hong Kong with its factory in the mainland – originally agreed to print the bags, but its mainland staff received an “order from the Ministry of Public Security” saying there were certain words and images they could not print.

“It’s the first time we [knew] that there is a blacklist,” Lam told HKFP. “The people from the company disclosed that there was a list of censored keywords and sentences, including advocating independence and some logos and names of Hong Kong pro-democracy groups.”

Demosisto did not name the company involved or where the factory was located in the mainland.

Demosisto’s tote bag. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“It is just a normal commercial activity, we think [the blacklist] is quite ridiculous,” Lam said.

The “Year of the Pig” tote bags were among a list of products that Demosisto plans to sell at the Lunar New Year fair, which opened on Wednesday. The bags feature the slogan “Don’t be a Kong pig” – Cantonese slang meaning people who hate politics and avoid getting into public affairs.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“We hope Hong Kong people won’t be Kong pigs, and fight for their own dignity and rights,” Lam said.

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Posted by 香港眾志 Demosistō on Monday, 28 January 2019

Lam said he was worried that other pro-democracy groups may face similar restrictions in the future when it comes to conducting daily business. Since its founding in 2016, Demosisto has been denied registration by the Companies Registry and its members have been barred from seeking election.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Lunar New Year fair also has a rocky history with satirical products, especially when vendors rely on mainland manufacturers. In 2015, the Democratic Party printed the face of then-chief executive Leung Chun-ying onto rolls of toilet paper, but the stock was confiscated by mainland authorities before delivery to Hong Kong.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.