Hong Kong manufacturers have been battered by the turmoil in Myanmar as an increasing number of workers and civil servants have joined protests opposing the military coup.
Speaking on radio yesterday, Hong Kong Myanmar Manufacturers’ Association head Gina Fu said workers from her clothing factory have joined the protests.
“The attendance rate of my factory’s workers is sporadic because they have joined protests. This has affected the factory’s productivity,” she said.
Fu said civil servants and workers in private businesses have also joined the protests, causing delays in the clearance of goods from Hong Kong manufacturers.
“Only around a quarter of customs officers have continued to work and goods have been put on hold awaiting customs clearance,” she said.
More Hong Kong manufacturers have been attracted to set up factories in Myanmar in recent years as the country has a huge working population with low wages, she said.
Fu said such factories were scattered around a few cities, including the country’s largest, Yangon.
“My factory has a pier in Yangon due to its convenient transportation,” she said. “Yangon should have the most Hong Kong factories, followed by neighboring city Bago.”
The junta has imposed an 8pm to 4am curfew in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, since February 8. In addition, internet and mobile services have been blocked.
Fu said banks have also suspended services, affecting withdrawals. She noted that anti-Chinese sentiment has resurfaced as some local reports allege Beijing backed the junta which overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Some have called for boycotting Chinese products in response. So far, we can see that they are against Beijing but not Chinese people,” she added.
Protesters returned to the streets in force yesterday, staging the biggest demonstrations since troops fanned out across the country to quell opposition to the junta.
Tens of thousands rallied in Yangon, some blockading roads with vehicles to stop security forces from moving around the city.
“We have to fight until the end,” Nilar, a 21-year-old student, said.
“We need to show our unity and strength to end military rule. People need to come out on the streets.”
Yesterday’s crowds came in defiance of violent efforts by the regime to bring resistance to heel – including use of tear gas and rubber bullets – following protests and a disobedience campaign encouraging civil servants to strike.
Demonstrations over the past two days had been noticeably smaller since troops were deployed around Yangon at the weekend.
But social media platforms had been flooded with calls for a show of force by protesters.