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Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong protesters trash Starbucks and Yoshinoya

Cafe chain and Japanese restaurant victimized by violence in Kowloon

Workers clean up debris Oct. 2 after vandals struck a Yoshinoya restaurant in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. (Photo by Takashi Kawakami)

HONG KONG -- An international Japanese restaurant chain was among the businesses sweeping up broken glass after Tuesday's intense clashes in the city as protesters turned their anger against brands that they labeled as supporting Beijing.

The Yoshinoya shop, known for its gyudon beef over rice, was one of several stores and restaurants vandalized in Kowloon, where police shot an 18-year-old protester on Tuesday.

Nearly every pane of glass in the restaurant was shattered, and the exterior was spray-painted with the word "trash" in Chinese characters.

Also damaged on Tuesday were ATMs belonging to Bank of China and other mainland lenders. Starbucks locations were also vandalized.

The damage provides further evidence of the challenge facing businesses caught in the months-long unrest in the Asian financial and transport hub -- a list that includes Cathay Pacific Airways.

People in Hong Kong pass by a Starbucks shop damaged by pro-democracy protesters during clashes with police on Oct. 1.   © Getty Images

Earlier in the protests now in their 18th week, Yoshinoya Holdings, the company behind the beef bowl chain, was the subject of rumors alleging it had fired employees over a Facebook advertisement that mocked police officers. In response, activists taped signs outside of Yoshinoya shops denouncing the chain.

Hop Hing Group, based in Hong Kong, is the licensed operator of Yoshinoya locations in the city and the mainland. CEO Marvin Hung is also under fire from protesters for attending a rally for Hong Kong police organized by pro-Beijing groups.

Restaurants operated by Maxim's Caterers, including Starbucks, caught the ire of demonstrators after the daughter of the group founder condemned protesters as "violent" last month at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was among those calling for a boycott of Starbucks on Twitter.

A Starbucks in an office district on Hong Kong island remained closed after being vandalized late last month. Maxim's also operates Genki Sushi restaurants in the city.

When the protests started in June, in response to an extradition bill that has since been withdrawn, demonstrators used low-key acts of resistance such as writing graffiti. But the protests have grown more violent, with protesters vandalizing government and police facilities and clashing with police.

As police stepped up their crackdown in recent days, some protesters shifted their crosshairs on commercial establishments. On Tuesday, 24 major shopping facilities, including a department store run by Japan-based Sogo, closed their doors for the day, according to local media reports. Smaller shops closed as well to avoid vandalism and keep tear gas from damaging merchandise.

August retail sales in Hong Kong sank 23% from a year earlier, according to official data released Wednesday. This follows an 11.5% decline in July.

The biggest contributing factor is the loss of tourists from the mainland, which has undermined sales of jewelry and cosmetics. But local consumption appears all buy certain to suffer as well.

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