“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.