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China v. Hong Kong: Locusts, Poodles And The Pregnant Nouveaux Riches

Tensions are simmering between locals in Hong Kong and the many mainland Chinese who come to spend their newfound riches, and even give birth, in the former British colony that in many ways is still set apart.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Louis Vuitton is a favorite of Chinese tourists in Hong Kong (sprklg)



BEIJING – It’s come down to old-fashioned name-calling. A spat between Mainland China and Hong Kong has turned decidedly ugly after a Chinese professor called the Hongkongese: “poodles” of the British crown, a reference to the decades of colonial rule. One public response from some in Hong Kong was to call Chinese “locusts.”

The clash started last month when a visiting Chinese girl ate a cup of instant noodles in a Hong Kong metro car. When told off by a Hong Kong resident, other Chinese tourists supported the little girl by ridiculing the Hongkongese’s non-standard Mandarin. (Hong Kong natives speak mostly Cantonese, another Chinese dialect)

Kong Qingdong, a Beijing University professor and famously controversial figure, responded to the incident by saying that those from Hong Kong “haven’t lost their colonial thinking” and are obviously willing “poodles” of the British because they don’t speak Mandarin and do not consider themselves as Chinese, even 15 years after sovereignty was officially turned over to Beijing.

The accusation immediately provoked outrage in the former British colony, which was heightened a few days later when store guards outside of a Dolce & Gabbana store in Hong Kong prohibited locals from taking pictures, though Chinese tourists were apparently allowed to snap away.

But even beyond these two incidents, other factors had already raised China-Hong Kong tensions. In Hong Kong, there is some bitterness that those from the mainland, once considered “rustic” and less civilized” are now the nouveaux riches with impressive purchasing power that dominates Hong Kong’s trendy commerce. Complaints about the Chinese tourists being noisy, dirty and ignorant of rules are often heard.

Even more extreme is the growing tendency for pregnant Chinese women to go to Hong Kong to give birth to and thus get a Hong Kong resident identity for the child. There are even agencies that specialize in facilitating such trips. Hong Kong is still a much more cosmopolitan city than Shanghai and Beijing, and offers better education and job opportunities. For those who can’t make it to the United States in the first place, Hong Kong is certainly a good alternative.

And now, all the accumulated discontent of the Hongkongese towards the Chinese has finally exploded. Five days ago, some Hong Kong civic groups sponsored a full-page newspaper advertisement calling openly on the Hong Kong authorities to stop the massive, “refugee-style invasion” by pregnant Chinese women, and stop allowing babies born of “doubly non-Hongkongese parents.”

It was in this ad that the Chinese were referred to as “locusts”. That was followed by a long YouTube spot of redubbed pop music proclaiming the “anti-locust battle.” 

Read the original article in Chinese

Photo - sprklg

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations


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About this article source Website:

The Economic Observer is a weekly Chinese-language newspaper founded in April 2001. It is one of the top business publications in China. The main editorial office is based in Beijing, China. Inspired by the Financial Times of Britain, the newspaper is printed on peach-colored paper.

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