A spokesman for the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said the agency would closely observe developments in the escalating war of words between Kong Qingdong (孔慶東), a professor at Peking University, and residents of Hong Kong after Kong referred to them as “dogs” over an incident involving Chinese tourists.
Commenting on a widely circulated YouTube video of Hong Kongers telling off Chinese tourists for allowing children to eat on the Hong Kong subway, Kong delivered scathing remarks against Hong Kongers on VODone, a Chinese state-affiliated media company, on Jan. 19, and even called Hong Kongers “dogs.”
The comments have touched off a row between China and Hong Kong, and they have even caused clashes between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese.
MAC spokesman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said the clashes between mainland Chinese and Hong Kongers were a reaction to tourists from the mainland, adding that the reaction in Hong Kong was understandable.
Asked whether similar clashes could occur if Taiwan allowed in more Chinese tourists, Liu declined to comment, adding that the council would closely monitor how the situation develops in Hong Kong.
However, council officials have said privately that although Hong Kong and Taiwan have opened their borders to Chinese tourists, the two places are not the same and should not be compared.
Hong Kong was under British rule and there is a different atmosphere and culture, officials said, adding that in Taiwan, the culture is closer to that of China and that affinity would serve to mitigate the chances of conflict.
However, officials also said that any country needs to consider the possibility of such events occurring, if only to serve as a reference point on how to handle the challenges that would bring.
On the issue of the Hong Kong-Taiwan relationship, the council said that Raymond Tam (譚志源), the director of Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, had met Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長) to discuss the matter.
Kao called on the Hong Kong government to implement online applications for free Hong Kong visas for Taiwanese and added that under the principle of reciprocity, the Taiwanese government should also work to implement a visa-waiver for citizens of Hong Kong.
Liu was asked to comment on Kong’s assertion that the Taiwanese elections were “fake -democracy,” akin to a TV drama, and that the 600,000 vote margin of victory President Ma (馬英九) had over Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was not even “half the population of Beijing.”
“On the basis that Kong was commenting on an issue that he does not fully understand, we’ll treat it as his own personal opinion,” Liu said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer