Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ikea's stuffed wolf becomes face of Hong Kong protest movement

Ikea stores in Hong Kong have unexpectedly sold out of a stuffed toy wolf after it became the unlikely symbol of opposition to the city's unpopular government. Hundreds of the stuffed toys flew off the shelves days after an anti-government protester threw it at the city's leader Leung Chun-ying during a weekend public meeting. "Lufsig has been sold out at all Ikea stores," a spokeswoman said, adding that there were queues before the stores opened.

The innocent-looking toy depicts the wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood", and can be seen holding a stuffed toy resembling the grandmother. Ikea's website for mainland China features the toy with a Chinese name, which sounds similar to a profanity in the Cantonese dialect. "The Wolf" is also Leung's nickname in a reference to what critics see as his untrustworthiness and cunning.

"The toy was politically utilized by protesters targeting the chief executive so it has become a political symbol of opposition to the government," Sonny Lo, head of the Department of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said. The toy even has its own Facebook page featuring pictures of the wolf in various locations.

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 as a semi-autonomous territory with its own political and legal system that guarantees civil liberties not seen on the mainland. Leung, appointed as chief executive by a pro-Beijing committee last July, is charged with overseeing the transition to universal suffrage to choose his successor in 2017. His critics are sceptical of his ability to manage this process because of his ties with Beijing.

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