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Hong Kong Celebrates 'Stubborn' New Year

Chinese around the world are celebrating the Lunar New Year — the year of the goat, or the sheep, depending on whom you ask.

But it's apparent that Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung prefers the latter. In a New Year's address Wednesday, he urged the territory's citizens, who staged mass protests last year, to behave more like mild-mannered sheep in the coming year.

However, many in the former British colony seem to prefer the stubborn goat.

At the annual New Year's Eve Market, stalls were selling not just traditional items like flowers, toys and food, but also political items. They included yellow umbrellas, the symbol of last year's Occupy Central movement. The yellow umbrella was everywhere late Wednesday, in the form of balloons, key rings and umbrella-shaped cups.

A student vendor in Victoria Park, who would only give his family name of Su, told VOA that things are different this year.

“This year, there are an increasing number of products deeply related to politics compared with last year. Last year, only a political party would put out some political-related products," he said. "Now, even students and the nearby stores will sell a lot of political-related products."

Many of the products, such as toilet paper and floor mats, feature the face of CY Leung himself.

Chan Wenhan of the Democratic Party said it was hard to order many of the commodities from mainland Chinese factories.

"Actually a large amount of products were sold, and the condition is better than what we thought. You know we thought we would not earn so much money, because [orders for] tissues with [CY] Leung's portrait were [blocked] by the Chinese government. We could only sell towels [with his face]," he said.

Yuen, who would only give her family name, said she hoped the political items would become reminders of what happened and what could happen.

"We hope people will get some products to their homes, and we hope people will not forget what happened in 2014, but also look forward to the future," she said.

Even though many of the markets were in places where student protesters gathered last year, such as Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, there were no reports of any disturbances.

Tens of thousands of protesters shut down key streets in Hong Kong for two-and-a-half months beginning in late September. The protesters want Leung to resign and Beijing to reverse its decision to screen candidates for the territory's 2017 election.

Authorities in Beijing declared the camps illegal and eventually had them cleared by police without granting the demonstrators any concessions.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin and Cantonese service.