Hong Kong churches promote economic justice at Christmas

Hong Kong churches promote economic justice at Christmas

The Hong Kong Catholic Church has reminded its members to be aware of the need for economic justice during the Christmas season and two other church groups are participating in the “Occupy” anti-corporate movement.

The Diocesan Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs (CCLA) has organised a Christmas campaign to boycott shopping centres to promote the cause and highlight the need to alleviate the wealth gap in society.

“The wealth gap in Hong Kong is widening, with land developers manipulating the local economy. Small-size shops are being marginalised due to large shopping centers and chain stores,” the commission said in a statement. “We encourage people to buy Christmas gifts at ‘mom and pop’ shops, helping to develop the community economy.”

The CCLA offers a list of 33 small shops that sell hand-made, environmentally friendly, and fair trade products. “To change the economic system, changing our lifestyle and modifying our consumer behaviours are equally important,” said But Ngan Ping, CCLA project officer.

“We believe that consumer behaviour can change the capitalistic world,” she said. The CCLA is visiting parishes to promote the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Christian Institute and a community church, One Body in Christ, are organising a Christmas carolling event on December 24, joining the Occupy Central movement — Hong Kong’s version of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US — taking place near the headquarters of some banks in the financial district.

The two groups are also concerned about the effect of large shopping malls, claiming chain stores can drive smaller shop owners into poverty. “What is the Good News for the poor people?” asked group leaders, who insist that “economic hegemony should come to an end” and “power of the people should be restored”.

According to the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, there are 1.2 million people living in poverty in Hong Kong, out of a population of seven million. A recent poll shows 65 per cent of respondents think land developers have no social responsibility and are only interested in making money.

By Francis Wong, Ecumenical News International

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