More than 1,000 protesters rallied in Guangzhou and Hong Kong yesterday against what they say is China’s bid to champion the national language, Mandarin, over their local dialect, Cantonese.
Hundreds of mainland police officers were deployed to disperse protesters who gathered in People’s Park in Guangzhou to call on authorities to preserve the Cantonese language and culture, Hong Kong broadcasters RTHK and Cable TV reported.
“Guangzhou people speak the Guangzhou language,” some angry protesters chanted as the size of the crowd grew to about 1,000, RTHK said.
Videos from Cable TV and YouTube showed that some of the rally participants were forcibly carried away. A number of Hong Kong journalists were taken for questioning, Cable TV reported.
Chinese authorities have been anxious to suppress the growing pro-Cantonese movement, sparked after a political advisory body in Guangzhou proposed last month that local TV stations broadcast their prime-time shows in Mandarin instead of Cantonese ahead of the Asian Games in the province in November.
Adopting China’s official language, also known as Putonghua, would promote unity, “forge a good language environment” and cater to non-Cantonese-speaking Chinese visitors at the huge sporting event, authorities were quoted as saying.
Hundreds of Guangzhou residents defied government orders and staged their first demonstration the previous Sunday, but the protest was soon suppressed by the authorities, according to reports.
To echo the Guangzhou campaign, about 200 protesters marched to the government headquarters in Hong Kong yesterday.
“We want to show our support to our Guangzhou friends in their campaign to protect Cantonese against any threat of elimination,” said Choi Suk-fong, organizer of the rally.
Participants wore white T-shirts with a logo which said: “You want us to shut up. We will speak louder in Cantonese.”
A number of Guangzhou residents crossed the border to take part in the Hong Kong rally, saying that authorities in Guangzhou were trying to silence the protesters.
“I really regretted not going to the rally in Guangzhou last week. I came to Hong Kong today because I want to protect my own culture. Unlike on the mainland, here I can voice my view more directly,” said 21-year-old Wyman, who refused to give his family name for fear of retaliation by the Chinese authorities.
Instances of mainland protests spilling over into Hong Kong, which was returned to China in 1997, are rare since China’s the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Cantonese is the mother tongue for an estimated 70 million people in Hong Kong, Macau and China’s southern Guangdong Province, and is widely spoken in overseas Chinese communities.
China has long been a patchwork of often mutually unintelligible dialects.
Beijing made Mandarin the country’s official language in 1982, leading to bans on other dialects at many radio and television stations.
The dialect has been further promoted in recent years as migrant workers moved to China’s coastal areas to find jobs.
BACK TO NORMAL? The move would be part of a gradual easing of curbs monitored by the CECC, which would retain the quarantine mandate if case numbers rise again The Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to next month reopen Taiwan’s borders to all visitors and lift the quarantine mandate for arrivals, provided the nation’s COVID-19 situation does not escalate. The changes are likely to take effect on Oct. 13 as part of a phased easing of border controls that is to start on Thursday next week when a negative polymerase chain reaction test result would no longer be needed, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Arriving travelers would instead be given four rapid antigen home test kits, Lo said. The three-day quarantine requirement followed by four days of mandatory
The Chinese navy has the ability to blockade Taiwan, but doing so could prompt a coordinated response by the international community to intervene to resolve the crisis for Taiwan, US Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said. “Clearly if they do something that’s non-kinetic, which, you know, a blockade is less kinetic ... then that allows the international community to weigh in and to work together on how we’re going to solve that challenge,” the commander of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday. While he could not predict whether China would launch a full-scale
‘NO SURRENDER’: A blockade or outlying island seizure would be an act of war, and China’s drills last month have emboldened Taipei in its response plans, an official said The Republic of China Army Command Headquarters has agreed to purchase 5,000 Kestrel close-range anti-armor missiles worth NT$400 million (US$12.63 million) from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, according to the military’s latest arms purchase bid notice. The army asked the institute to complete the order within 13 months, a military source said on condition of anonymity. Kestrel missiles are designed to penetrate armored vehicles and are used in anti-surface warfare, as they feature optical sights and night vision, and can be operated in all weather conditions. The missile has a 400m range, or a 150m range when used for breaching brick
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758