Students at two Hong Kong universities have held protests targeting caterer Maxim’s Group after Annie Wu – the daughter of the firm’s founder – denounced the pro-democracy movement during an appearance at the United Nations.

Maxim’s has issued a statement saying that Wu “does not hold any position at the company” and is not involved in managerial decisions.

annie wu
Annie Wu. File photo: CGTN screenshot.

Students from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Wednesday held a protest outside a cafeteria run by Maxim’s, shouting slogans such as “if you eat at Maxim’s you have no conscience.”

Maxim’s is one of Hong Kong’s largest restaurant conglomerates, whose portfolio includes brands like simplylife, Starbucks and Chiuchow Garden.

A group of musicians also went into a campus Starbucks and performed the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong, with some demonstrators saying they wanted to order “pepper spray latte” and “tear gas macchiato,” according to HKUSU’s Campus TV.

On Monday, students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) also held a sit-in at a Maxim’s-operated canteen. Apple Daily reported that the catering service was suspended at around lunchtime after students blocked the cashier counter, put up protest posters and took up seats without buying food.

“Black-hearted Maxim’s, boycott the S. H. Ho College Student Canteen,” some of the students shouted. Both HKU and CUHK protests drew detractors, who engaged in shouting matches with the students. However, university officials kept their distance.

CUHK protest SHHo college canteen
CUHK students protest at a campus canteen.

‘Calculated violent acts’

On September 11, Annie Wu appeared at the United Nations Human Rights Council representing the Hong Kong Federation of Women, alongside billionaire businesswoman Pansy Ho. The pair said in a statement that the “small group of radical protesters,” which used “systematic and calculated violent acts,” did not represent all Hongkongers.

The duo also defended the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by Hong Kong police, saying that the crowd control tactics were also adopted elsewhere in the world.

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Pro-democracy protesters started targeting Maxim’s in late September, with some calling for boycotts and disruptive direct action. On Sunday, protesters in Sha Tin stuck flyers on the facade of a Maxim’s-owned bakery, a Starbucks and a simplylife branch at the New Town Plaza shopping mall.

Demonstrators also made mass reservations at a Maxim’s restaurant, then connected the paper booking slips into a long string and dangled them from height.

shatin new town plaza maxim's protest
Protests against the Maxim’s Group at New Town Plaza in Shatin. Photo: Stand News.

In their Tuesday statement, the food and catering firm distanced itself from Wu and thanked its customers for their support. The company also said it had provided “emergency guidelines and assistance” to frontline employees, as it apologised to affected customers.

“In light of recent social incidents, we hope all parties can resolve their differences and the community can return to normal,” Maxim’s said.

Protests in Hong Kong have entered its 14th week, which first began with large-scale peaceful protests in June against a bill that would have enabled extraditions to China. The demonstrations have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachmentdemocracy and alleged police brutality.

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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.