For China’s newest battle in the South China Sea, look no further than Hong Kong.
The semi-autonomous island is home to immoral people, most of whom are thieves, dogs and bastards, according to Kong Qingdong, a professor of Chinese studies at Beijing University.
“As far as I know, many Hong Kong people don’t regard themselves as Chinese. Those kinds of people are used to being the dogs of British colonialists — they are dogs, not humans,” Mr. Kong said in a recent interview on Chinese news website v1.cn.
Mr. Kong’s comments came after a recent survey from the University of Hong Kong in which 34% of Hong Kong’s seven million people said they think of themselves as Chinese.
They were also in response to a debate that emerged after a video of a squabble between Hong Kong residents and mainlanders went viral last week. The video captured a subway squabble between a mainland visitor who was eating on the Hong Kong train and local passengers who informed her that eating on the subway was forbidden.
The spat turned into a yelling match, sparking another passenger to hit the train’s emergency button, calling for subway staff to intervene. After a train representative arrived, a Hong Kong passenger told him, “No need to speak to them. That’s what mainlanders are like.”
In Hong Kong, Mainland residents are better known for spitting and littering than they are known for their etiquette. “There is no denying that the manners and etiquette of some visitors from the mainland do not meet the standards set by the local Hong Kong residents. But poor manners are considered only a nuisance,” said Huang Xiangyang, a writer for state-run China Daily, last week in an op-ed column addressing the subway brawl.
Mr. Kong’s response to the video was not well received in Hong Kong. Protests erupted on the island over the weekend, according to Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK. Scores of Hong Kong citizens, many of whom brought their dogs with them, gathered at the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Beijing’s main representative office in Hong Kong, urging China’s mainland residents and officials to understand Hong Kong’s values.
A battle has been brewing as of late between this special administrative region, still influenced by its history as a former British colony, and its onlookers to the north, who represent the world’s second-largest economy and have a strong sway over the future of Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, 1,500 Hong Kong mothers took to the streets to protest the flooding of local hospitals by a growing tide of pregnant mainland women who rush to Hong Kong to give birth, ensuring their children are Hong Kong citizens and have access to the administrative region’s schools and subsidized health care.
Also in January, hundreds of Hong Kong citizens rallied outside an outlet of the Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana after the store’s security told local citizens that only visitors from China’s mainland could snap photos of the shop.
Tensions between China and Hong Kong have heightened since 1997, when British authorities returned Hong Kong to China after more than 150 years of colonial rule. Hong Kong residents, who speak Cantonese, not the mainland’s Mandarin, and drive on the left side of the road, have been eager to preserve their own culture. Many are afraid that businesses are slowly pushing them aside, discriminating against them in favor of wealthy mainlanders with whom they feel they do not identify.
Mr. Kong warns Hong Kong residents who think they their morals are better than the mainlanders’: “Don’t have anything to do with us. We will stop supplying your water. We will stop supplying your vegetables. We will stop growing your rice. You can grow it all yourself.”
A recognized descendent of Confucius, Mr. Kong last year participated in a ceremony awarding the Confucius Peace Prize, China’s unofficial answer to the Nobel Peace Prize, to Vladimir Putin.