By now cardboard cutouts of Chinese President Xi Jinping holding up a yellow umbrella are a common sight in the protest zones in Mong Kok, Admiralty and Causeway Bay.
But it’s not just the pro-democracy activists who are having fun. It’s also an instant hit with mainland tourists, who enjoy having their pictures taken beside the unlikely mascot of the protest movement.
Many of the tourists say they are just doing it for fun. They say they could end up in jail on the mainland for something like this, but here in Hong Kong it seems they could “go wild” a little bit, Apple Daily reports.
The cutout is actually a photoshopped image of the Chinese leader taken last year during his visit to Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, on a rainy day. That explains why he is seen with his pants rolled up and holding an umbrella.
There are at least 13 of the Xi cutouts at the Mong Kok protest site and three others in Causeway Bay, while the one in Admiralty features a huge banner that reads “I want genuine universal suffrage”.
Although the cutouts provide comic relief to the protesters, some of them have been intentionally damaged by passersby. In Mong Kok, police arrested a 31-year-old man who tried to set one such cutout on fire.
Meanwhile, a group of Japanese university students arrived in Hong Kong to observe the Occupy campaign.
One of the students, who said she did not tell her parents that she would visit the protest sites, observed that the activists behaved peacefully, contrary to the violent scenes in news reports.
She also said the young generation of Japan doesn’t care much about politics, with only half of the registered voters casting their ballots during elections. She also said many young Japanese cannot tell the difference between China and Hong Kong.
One Japanese student who studies in China laments the lack of freedom on the mainland, noting that Facebook and Google are banned in the country.
Expressing her support for Hong Kong’s democracy fight, the student said the city’s pro-democracy activists are the envy of youngsters in Japan.
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