The year of the Rabbit has not brought a gentle mood to Hong Kong. Blow after blow of incidents heightened the tension between Mainland China and Hong Kong. Here are recent news stories and personal experiences that happened recently:
– Mainland pregnant women exploit Hong Kong’s overloaded emergency rooms and delivery wards just so they can birth a child into Hong Kong residence status. They cross the border during the final moments of pregnancy, putting themselves and their children in danger and straining Hong Kong’s under resourced hospitals. <SCMP>
– On Jan 5th, a staff from the D&G store at Tsim Sha Tsui’s Canton Road denied Hong Kongers from photographing the store but allowed mainlanders to, subsequently leading to a protest outside the store: <Yahoo news>
– Over the weekend I watched the film A Beautiful Life (不再讓你孤單), a stereotype of Hong Kong vs China characters.
– Today, a video has gone viral on Facebook amongst Hong Kongers, showing a Mandarin television talk show of a Professor calling Hong Kongers dogs and bastards
The video that has gone viral: Mainland Chinese Televsion: Hongkonger are dogs 中國電視台: 香港人係狗 (Mandarin with English subtitles)
The speaker is Professor Kong Qing-Dong (孔慶東) at Peking University
If you are a Hong Konger, your blood pressure would have gone through the roof! Please hold your breath and take an objective look. A little research and China’s wiki Baidu tells us that Professor Kong is known to be outspoken, often sarcastic and vulgar. And to be fair, Kong is accurate in his generalizations. Hong Kongers are not the most virtuous. Lee Ka-Shing is partly responsible for making real estate unaffordable for the middle class. Hong Kongers are condescending to Mainlanders. Hong Kongers do not want to be associated with mainland Chinese, calling ourselves Hong Kong Chinese rather than just Chinese.
Now that I have acknowledged him, I will address why Hong Kongers are outraged, as one myself.
Do not call Hong Kongers immoral. We do not poison our own people.
– Hong Kongers did not make fake eggs.
– Furthermore, Hong Kongers did not make plastic rice, artificially flavoured miscellaneous meat disguised as fresh beef or pork (Google results china+fake+food)
– We spoil our children as contemporary mainlanders do, but we do not idly watch a toddler repeatedly get run over by a truck (video not safe for life <Telegraph.co.uk>
Now, let’s get back on track and consider the context. Here is the video which he referred to at the start of the previous clip: Mainland girl eating caused controversy within Hong Kong MTR (Cantonese with English subtitles)
How do you feel after watching this video?
Here are the facts: a Hong Kong man tells off a Mainland Chinese mother and daughter for eating on the MTR (train) and making a mess. An MTR staff arrives at the scene. It is an MTR by-law that eating or drinking on the train can be fined for $5000.
Here are the details: The man points and speaks loudly. The mother denies any wrongdoing. The child says “It should be mother’s fault”. The mother puts her finger up to her lips to signal silence to the child.
To outsiders, the Hong Kong man is overreacting. Who has never seen a Hong Konger consume food or drinks on the MTR? How often does someone go up and reprimand them and causing a scene? She is just a child; kids make a mess all the time!
This is a generation gap and cultural gap existing between previous and current generations in Hong Kong. Speaking from personal experience, my father came from China to Britain-ruled Hong Kong for a better life. I was born in Hong Kong but sent off overseas at a young age and I was brought up with Western ideologies. I returned to Hong Kong post-handover and am now working with my father where he has to deal with mainland Chinese. His management style involves yelling personal insults and profanity, comparing “the mainlanders” to Hong Kong staff for being such “uncivilized people” and a disgrace to China’s millenniums of culture. The Cantonese term for mainlanders, 大陸人 daai look yan, is often used by Hong Kongers but can be insulting if heard by mainlanders. I, a “banana” to whom mainland Chinese is third culture, am absolutely appalled. I believe that if we do not respect them, being a Chinaman himself and insulting their culture, how are they to respect us? My father believes that I am westernized and naïve (which can be used interchangeably to some) and they will not take heed of my generosity.
Yet I repeat: if we do not respect them, how are they to respect us? If we yell at their children for eating messily, or yell at them for speaking loudly, what do they take from that? Maybe we can lead by example and demonstrate a relatively civilized life, which also attracts them to this well-regulated city to give patronage to our local businesses.
But does that mean we are tolerating their offensive behaviour? Our Chinese customs, mainland or Hong Kong alike, ask us to be hospitable hosts and modest guests. Where did that courtesy go? As visitors, maybe they can learn to respect our culture. We are the same country. After all, weren’t we all proudly cheering during the Beijing Olympics Opening ceremony?
Learning from the squabble with my father, our generation gap is like the HK vs China cultural gap. They are our annoying relatives who are accustomed to their ways built upon centuries of experiences. They brought us here. We may do things in a more widely accepted way but they have been feeding us. We cannot ask them to change their way of survival overnight. They have survived out of billions of starving peasants to come to a city of lights and suits and cultured people who complain about being too full. We Hong Kongers are lucky to have western influence. We feel entitled to our lifestyle after knowing western culture (浸過鹹水海). Mainlanders feel entitled to be welcomed to a city that is a part of China.
We Hong Kongers do feel the pressure to assimilate back into Chinese culture. The SAR slogan of “No change for 50 years” is interpreted as no progress for Hong Kong disguised as no intervention from China post-handover. We appreciate that and ZhongNanHai‘s article on national identity similarly concludes we don’t want them to change us too. After this article, I realize they are aware we do not want the change nor are they happy about it.
Their view is even expressed in the film I watched. Here is the clip from A Beautiful Life (不再讓你孤單), a film by director Andrew Lau of Infernal Affairs. (in Mandarin with Chinese subtitles):
Shu Qi plays a Hong Kong girl in Beijing seeking to make a fortune from real estate, while becoming a mistress (irony 1) and is helped out by Lau Ye, a local honest cop (irony 2). One scene that drew a cry of shock from the audience is when an angry Shu Qi lashes out at building safety inspectors for disproving her newly renovated shop, Lau Ye tells her, “This is not Hong Kong, you need to obey the law here!” (the last line in the clip, irony 3).
Andrew Lau, you traitor!!! I was correcting the announcer through the television when he said Infernal Affairs was a Japanese movie during the Oscars!! How can you go about emphasizing the Hong Kong girl stereotype (港女 gong lui and a MPDG to boot) and convincing us Chinese cops are honest? Look what it did – a film with mind-blowing performances from the lead actors were ruined by the cheesy script. I understand it wins over the Chinese box office, but such poorly veiled propaganda is way below you. Is this how the Chinese want to intervene now? Instead of changing us or themselves, are they gradually rebranding how other people see us to avoid having poll results like this ever again?