Sat, Feb 04, 2012 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: HK-China feud the shape of things to come

TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT:Resentments between mainland Chinese and Hong Kong residents have been simmering ever since the handover in 1997

By Su Yung-yao  /  Staff Reporter

While tensions between Hong Kong and China are running high due to recent comments made by Peking University professor Kong Qingdong (孔慶東), the problem has been brewing for a while, political commentator Paul Lin (林保華) said.

Kong, commenting on a widely circulated YouTube video of Hong Kongers telling off Chinese tourists for allowing children to eat on the Hong Kong MTR, on Jan. 19 made scathing remarks about Hong Kongers on VODone, a Chinese state-affiliated media company, calling them “bastards” for using Cantonese when Chinese tourists obviously didn’t understand, adding that the Hong Kongers were “the dogs of British colonialists.”

The reaction of Hong Kongers shows that despite being “returned” to China for more than a decade, “the hearts of the Hong Kongers have yet to return,” Lin said.

During the British colonial period, Hong Kongers looked down on the Chinese and the 1980 TV drama series The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (網中人) even made fun of new Chinese immigrants, calling them derogatorily Y can (阿燦), Lin said. The term refers to one of the characters in the drama series: a poor, unassuming and not-so-bright Chinese immigrant.

However, now the Chinese have become rich the tables have turned, and it is the Chinese who look down on the Hong Kongers, calling them Gang can (港燦) in turn, he added.

However, the wealth of the Chinese was not the source of the problem per se, Lin said.

“The problem is that the Chinese are flaunting their wealth and putting on airs, while taking advantage of the Hong Kongers,” Lin said.

As examples, Lin cited the imminent implementation of regulations to allow inhabitants of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong to drive between the two locations and the steady stream of pregnant Chinese women going to Hong Kong to give birth. Hong Kongers are fed up with being taken advantage of, he said.

With the difference in driving habits between the generally law-abiding Hong Kongers and their less law-abiding Chinese counterparts, an endless stream of traffic accidents could also be expected to occur in Hong Kong, Lin said

The generally low morals of Chinese tourists also trigger Hong Kongers’ discontent, he added.

On the other hand, Lin said, Hong Kong has been a part of China since it was “returned,” yet the Chinese immigrants and tourists feel it is unfair that the “one country, two systems” gives Hong Kongers a special status.

The Chinese compare Hong Kong to China and act as they do because they are jealous and they want some of the advantages the Hong Kongers enjoy, Lin said.

As for the heated online debate generated by Kong’s comments, Lin said that while it might seem that Kong’s partisans in China have the upper hand, there exists an element in Hong Kong that wishes to exacerbate the conflict to make it harder for Beijing to deal with.

Most Hong Kong netizens are from the younger generation and they are using the dispute to express their discontent with the current situation, Lin said, adding that “the problem now is that the younger generation in Hong Kong has a different view from their parent’s generation.”

When the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, even the pan-democracy camp agreed with it, Lin said. The Joint Declaration was the official agreement whereby the People’s Republic of China (PRC) resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Hong Kong island and the Kowloon Peninsula had been ceded to the British for perpetuity under the Treaty of Nanking, but the New Territories were subsequently leased to the UK for 99 years under a second treaty.

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