Hong Kong activists decry ‘brutal’ fur industry at trade fair, as organisers tout ‘renewable biodegradable’ product
Animal rights activists rallied outside of Hong Kong’s Fur & Fashion Fair on Sunday against the city’s continued participation in the international fur trade.
Around 90 protesters clad in animal masks and bodysuits gathered outside of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai, which played host to the annual fair between last Friday and Monday. The exhibition, now in its seventh year, was organised by the Hong Kong Fur Federation (HKFF), who tout the city as the “the world’s No.1 fur centre and premier exporter of high quality furs.”
The protest was also attended by pro-democracy lawmakers Eddie Chu, Claudia Mo, and Au Nok-hin. A petition urging the government to adopt an import and sales ban on all fur products was handed to Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, at the Central Government Offices at the end of the march.
“While more countries and leading fashion brands go fur-free, Hong Kong is contrary to the international trend,” Wendy Chan, a rally organiser, told HKFP. “We want to deliver a message to [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam and Edward Yau, as the heads of government – they can be either pro or anti-fur. This brutal industry not only kills over a billion animals every year but also harms workers and the planet. This unethical trade that is ruining Hong Kong’s reputation.”
Organisers also slammed the fur industry as harmful to the environment for its use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde in the manufacturing process. The gas is used to prevent animal pelts from rotting, though research suggests it can lead to cancer, irritation and allergies.
‘Progress, not regress’
Claudia Mo said that the use of fur in fashion is a cruel practice. “Hong Kong is known to be the international hub for [the] fur trade, with Mainland China the primary and key source,” she told HKFP. “Fur fashion is essentially vanity, and cruel. Humans progress, not regress. We should all help to put an end to this. Even fake fur would only help to promote and endorse the desirability of real fur.”
HKFF responded to the protest by stating that it abides by international laws and refutes claims that fur damages the environment, citing it as a “renewable biodegradable” material that can be recycled. “This organisation repeatedly fabricates false messages to deliberately mislead the public, and harasses a legal and well-regulated industry with the sole reason of harming the fur trade,” a spokesperson told HKFP.
“The Federation spokesman reiterates that the fur industry condemns any behaviour that constitutes animal cruelty, and joins the public upon this common stance.”
A number of countries have outlawed fur farms, including the United Kingdom in 2000 and Japan in 2016. The sale of fur has also been outlawed across the United States, in West Hollywood in 2011, San Francisco last year, and Los Angeles by 2020. No such legislation exists in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong remains the world’s third-largest fur clothing exporter with mainland China as its largest market, accounting for 49 per cent of its exports in 2018, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.