A group of social activists has launched a campaign against popular clothing chain Giordano for using simplified rather than traditional Chinese characters on promotional materials in many of its stores.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai, of political party the NeoDemocrats and the Sai Kung district councillor, said that over 90 per cent of the price tags and store notices contained only simplified Chinese and English in some stores, for the benefit of mainlanders.
The practice is particularly prevalent in tourist areas, such as Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay, according to Fan.
'Mainland customers are treated with servility while locals [are] often neglected,' he said.
Fan argued that the practice was 'discriminatory' to Hongkongers. Many local shops and restaurants have started offering simplified Chinese promotions to target mainland customers.
Fan led a handful of party members to protest outside a Giordano store at Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok, and collected about 500 signatures from passers-by.
'Their practice is understandable as most of the customers are mainlanders,' a 56-year-old local man said. 'But of course it is better to have traditional Chinese as well, so I still support this campaign.'
Traditional characters have been used for centuries, but the mainland started to promote simplified Chinese to promote literacy after the Communist Party came to power in 1949. But a Guangzhou tourist praised the practice of using simplified characters.
'I think having simplified Chinese in shopping malls and restaurants is convenient for us, and helps avert any kind of miscommunication,' said the visitor who bought two polo shirts at the Giordano store.
Giordano is the latest business that the NeoDemocrats have taken to task for the practice. Last month, they lodged a complaint against a branch of the agnes b. Cafe LPG chain for using simplified Chinese on its menus. Cafe staff later apologised on agnes b.'s Facebook page and reintroduced traditional characters on the menus.
The signatures collected yesterday would be sent to Giordano's head office, Fan said. 'If they continue to ignore our request, we'll stage the same kind of protests again in other areas like Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui to appeal for stronger public support,' he said.
Giordano could not be reached for comment yesterday.