“Locusts” vs. “Running dogs” – a War between Different Kinds of Chinese

“Locusts” vs. “running dogs” – a War between Different Kinds of Chinese

While I was in Hong Kong recently over the Chinese New Year, I was interviewed HK TV. The first question fired at me was about the verbal war between the Chinese from the mainland and Hong.

I should explain the background.

In recent years, mainlanders have been flocking to the former British colony: rich shoppers snatch up Louis Vuitton bags – real ones, of course; the supper riches buy up the most expensive properties, driving up the price up to the sky and expecting mothers, their purses as fat as their bellies, dash towards the hospitals so that their children can be born here and therefor obtain HK citizenship and the perks that comes with it. There are also hordes and hordes of ordinary mainlanders in tourists groups. Some of them have earned enough money to travel abroad but not quite the manner or
sophistication. Some eat and drink in the subway, which is forbidden; litter rubbish; spit or even urinate in the street. Such behaviors have irritated the local residents, who, generally speaking, show greater public concerns. In January, when a mainland girl was eating messily on the MTR, she was scolded by a fellow passenger – a Hong Konger, of course.

This incident has aroused quite a stir. Professor Kong Qingsheng from Peking University, a descendent of Confucius, responded by calling the Hong Kong people “bastards” and “the running dogs of the British”.

Partly in response to this, on Wednesday (1 Feb) a group of Kong Kongers published a large ad in a popular newspaper Apple, describing the mainlanders as “locusts”. It features a large locust looking down at HK’s iconic skyline. “Hong Kongers have had enough!” it says. The group strongly demands that HK authority to stop the “unlimited infiltration of mainland Chinese”, referring to the thousands women who come over to HK to give birth.

For me, the war between the “locusts” and the “running dogs” highlights the cultural differences between the Chinese from two sides of the border and reflects some complicated issues.

China’s fast-growing economy and its rising position in the world have made its people, the young people in particularly, assertive or even arrogant. They think now they run the world financially and therefore become over sensitive to any criticism. They demand the respect from the world. But I think you can’t not just summon respect. It has to be earned by your respectful behavior.

I am a mainlander. Much I am proud of what my country has achieved, I have to say that many of my fellow country men lack good manners. Professor Kong is just a colourful example. In fact, I think he violates the teaching of his ancestor because Confucius always emphasized the importance of ‘礼‘ courtesy. “The running dogs of the British”, does he think the HK people should feel ashamed of their colonial history?

Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 but maintains a Special Administration Region under the ‘one country two system’.

For better or for worse, the colonial past has bred a different kind of Chinese. English is commonly spoken and Hong Kongers have better access to the outside world and they have been enjoying, overall, a higher living standard. A recent survey shows that they identify themselves as Hong Kongers instead of Chinese.

To that end, some Hong Kongers do have a sense of superiority over the mainlanders. This sentiment is common among the Chinese in Taiwan and Singapore.

I can understand why the residents in Hong Kong displeased that their resources being taken by mainlanders, they should also bear in mind and the mainlanders have been playing an important role in their economy. After the Asia’s financial crisis, the Hong Kong’s economy was flagging. It was the mainlanders who came over in large numbers and spent big therefore revived the economy. Fling insulting terms like “locust’ isn’t the best way to show how civilized they are.

I hope the war is not going to escalate. The mainland and HK are too integrated to wage a real war. Let’s be civil to each other and just be civilized.


4 thoughts on ““Locusts” vs. “Running dogs” – a War between Different Kinds of Chinese

  1. hong kong has no hesitation in embracing english with humility but when it comes to mandarin and simplified chinese characters, hongkong wastes no time in pronouncing cantonese pride and anti-mainland sentiment.

    hongkongers need some re-education about “cantonese pride”.

    mandarin is a far more efficient and user-friendly tool for chinese communication than cantonese. the incompatibility between the daily spoken cantonese and the formal written chinese slows down ppl’s thought process, discounts idea output and halts back hk’s development. hk and singapore has often been put together for comparison in the last couple decades. hk students in general fare worse in written communication(both chinese and english) than singaporeans. i believe the cause lies in the different choice of teaching medium rather than any significant disparity in gene pool quality (as by the fact that hk chinese and singaporean chinese mostly look alike).

    singapore’s founder lee kwong yew is known for his anti-communism belief but his administration decided to adopt mandarin as the official language despite native mandarin speakers probably only made up a very small percentage of the chinese population in singapore(the majority should be hokkien speakers) and at the time singapore was founded, the chinese communist government was in international isolation from the west.

    the british are known for their cultural insight. if they had better faith in the cantonese culture, they would NOT have gone all that long way up to northern china (shandong) to recruit policemen early last century. these policemen were then put to station in the better-off neighbourhood in hk where the expatriates congregated. the next hk CEO CY Leung’s father was one of those policemen. cantonese was made the official language in hk in early 1970s, shortly after the red riots in late 60s. one clever and crooked agenda behind the choice of cantonese over mandarin was to curb hk’s connection to the red china.

    but to put it bluntly, cantonese is in fact just like the ebonics of the chinese language.

    ebonics is the dialect or vernacular form of American English spoken by a large proportion of African Americans. it developed from contacts between African langauges and nonstandard varieties of colonial English spoken by white americans in the southern states(the cotton plantation states where the african slaves worked). ebonics is used in the home or for day-to-day communication rather than for formal occasions. It typically diverges most from standard American English when spoken by people with low levels of education.

    cantonese is a dialect of chinese spoken by a large proportion of ppl living in the southern most area(guangdong and guangxi) of china. it is developed from contacts between southern indigenous languages (such as vietnamese, zhuang, tai,etc) and nonstandard colloquial chineses spoken by migrant chinese(such as soldiers and prisoners) from central china 2000yrs ago when the cantonese area was first included in china’s map. its accent and spoken form is more influenced by the indigenous languages as the chinese migrants married the southern indigenous women and their children’s speech is more influenced by their mother’s tongue than father’s (which is why cantonese accent actually sounds more similar to vietnamese and thai than other chinese dialects). they adopt the written form of standard chinese as none of the indigenous languages had developed a written form. as a result the spoken form and the written form have never been compatible. vietnamese used to adopt chinese characters for writing before the french came.

    the warm weather in the south and the segregation of the cantonese-speaking area from the rest of china by mountains slow down the evolution of the language (as well as the ppl’s brain and look there), making cantonese one of the least evolved regional dialects of the chinese language. less evolved means the language is less well regulated and less well developed and its pronouciation less pleasant to ears, which is why cantonese sounds harsh to many foreign ears. it has always been the least respected dialect in china and its accent is often mocked meanspiritedly. the connotations tagged on cantonese have hardly ever been positive. for example, the cantonese language and its speakers are often viewed as being less civilized by other chinese.

    despite hong kong’s success has little to do with the cantonese language or its culture, the glory might have given a bit twist of fate for cantonese but its destined to be only delusional and short-lived unless the cantonese ppl can upgrade their gene pool to become aesthetically appealing enough to project cultural influences to the other chinese. it has never happened in the last 2000 years though.

    the cultural centres in china has always been along the yellow river(xi’an, luoyang,kaifeng, beijing, ji’nan) and the yangzi(or changjiang) river(hanzhou, nanjing, shanghai). pearl river delta has always been the recieving end of cultural influence from the north through out history. in the last 1000yrs, half of the time china was ruled by horseback nomads from the north(mongol 200yrs, manchu 300yrs), whereas the southern tribes were never considered as any serious threat by central china. many southerners were even driven off their homeland to further south.

    if one wonders why cantonese is widely spoken among overseas chinese communities, some background check on the history of chinese emigration should help. a couple hundred yrs back, chinese were still non-migratory ppl and would not seek fortunes away from homeland unless they were driven desperate. most of the early chinese emigrants to the west represented the lowest level of human resources in china.

    “Waves of Chinese emigration (also known as the “Chinese Diaspora”) have happened throughout its history. The mass emigration known as the “diaspora” that occurred from the 19th century to 1949 was mainly caused by wars and starvation in mainland China, as well as the problems resulting from political corruption. Most immigrants were illiterate, poorly educated peasants and manual labourers, historically called coolies (Chinese: 苦力, translated: Hard Labour), who emigrated for work to countries such as the Americas, Australia, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Malaya and other places.”

    “According to Lynn Pan’s book “Sons of the Yellow Emperor”, the Chinese coolie emigration began after slavery had been abolished throughout the British possessions. Facing a desperate shortage of manpower, European merchants were looking to replace African slaves with indentured labourers from China and India.”

    “In the 19th century, the age of colonialism was at its height and the great Chinese Diaspora began. Many colonies lacked a large pool of laborers. around the same time there was a wide spread of poverty and ruin in the southern china caused by the taiping rebellion(rebellion usually happens when life is hard). and since guangzhou was the only open port under the policy of isolation in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), guangdong became the major port of exit for labourers to southeast asia and west. as a result, many overseas chinese communities have their origins in guangdong.

    an understanding of the chinese emigration history would help one understand the following (quoted):

    ” I think Cantonese is one of the harshest languages around, unlike, say, Mandarin or other East Asian languages. Cantonese is simply very cacophonous and displeasing to the ear.
    As someone who speaks both Cantonese & English fluently (but not Mandarin), I find these two languages are not entirely compatible. I’ve heard of many anecdoctal reports of how people from HK who speak Cantonese who cannot adjust to NOrth American culture because of this linguistic barrier, as opposed to someone who speaks Mandarin who nonethless could acculturate relatively easier in spite of a greater cultural gulf between mainland China and NOrth America.”

    mandarin doesnt attain its status purely out of the government’s effort. its being the official language in mainland china, taiwan and singapore is an evolutionary choice becoz its a more efficient communicative tool. it has actually been the official language in china long before the qing dynasty. its a mistaken perception that it origins from the manchurian language despite it was indeed influenced by the manchu during their 300yr rule over china (~1600-1900~). the manchu adopted chinese language rather than to promote manchurian language which was based on horseback migratory experiences and did not have enough vocabs nor was as well developed as chinese for city dwelling life.

    the primary function of a language is for communication rather than being a mental challenge(difficult to learn is actually a backward sign. the less well developed cantonese is more difficult than mandarin for picking up). the great apes howl to signal food and danger rather than to show off their capability in making noises. as a language evolves, its pronounciation becomes more polished and easier to make and thus sounds smoother and more pleasant to ears. beijing mandarin is often percieved as the most pleasant to ears becoz beijing has been a capital city for ~1000yrs and a capital city is where the elites and socialites congregate and the pressure of social refinement is greater.(btw, cultural centres in china have always mainly on the north side)

    cantonese is more expressive for strong emotions such as frustration and anger (eg cantonese often being percieved as more graphic and vulgar for insult — a backward sign though if we aspire to be more civilized and more polished) but its not as efficient as mandarin for communicating ideas and concepts. it is less well developed and less well regulated (overall = less evolved) as a result of warm weather in the south and segregation from the rest of china by mountains. warm weather and segregation slow down evolution in ppl’s brain(less sophisticated less wise) and look ( shorter, darker and less refine) and this is why the cantonese clan has often been viewed as less civilized and less appealing to other chinese throughout history and the cantonese culture has hardly ever been well regarded.

    hk’s success has little to do with the cantonese language. hk benefited a lot from the political misfortune and ideology failure in the mainland in the last century. its economic take off happened in 1960s after the influx of immigrants from china in the 1940-50s(war and power change). most of the affluent immigrants were NOT of cantonese origin. they brought along with them capital, connections and business and techno know-how. the tension between mainland and taiwan and the mainland’s close-door policy helped business in hk boom like nothing before. business just poured in uninvited. it was easy money. hk hardly needed to compete. a very different picture now. the only advantage left for hk is its international exposure and the rule of law instilled by the british. in terms of human resources, the best brains of chinese are still in the changjiang river delta (the shanghai area) and the yellow river delta (from beijing to shandong area). pearl river delta only started to project influence on the chinese course of civilization after the british took hk and the influence is based on western culture rather than anything of cantonese origin.

    all should have said much about the worth of cantonese pride.

  2. After reading the first paragraph of your post, Mainlander, it’s obvious that your words are little more than regurgitated rubbish spewed from the gaping mouths of your beloved CCP. So no, I didn’t bother to continue reading. I will say this, though. If you are so willing to force Hong Kong to adopt Mandarin as its mother-tongue based on your twisted “logic” then let’s go one further. English is the easiest and most useful language in the world. I say force that upon all the Chinese and make that the new Putonghua, because English truly the common speech of the world. Not your native language? Who cares, it’s simply too “logical” to refuse.

    People like you are the poster child for the Locust. And no, I am not a Hong Konger, but I am Chinese.

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