Ocean Park feels a need to deny rumours that mainland women are trying to abduct western toddlers at the famous tourist attraction. Despite their image as inactive, over-eating wastrels who spend all their time lazing in nail spas and rescuing distressed pangolins, Hong Kong’s expatriate housewives emerge from this scare as caring and protective mothers. Or at least those currently on-line do; who knows about the ones who are, as we speak, scouring Chinese orphanages in search of a new accessory-baby?
As anyone who has had to escort a young blond child in Hong Kong will know, some Chinese people are besotted by little European-looking brats. Mainlanders – who have only ever seen the golden curls, round blue eyes and supposedly doll-like pale-pink skin in pictures – are especially prone to stare in wonder and even ask to take a photo. Indeed, this is probably the reason why Ocean Park is so popular among mainlanders: the panda bears are obviously no big deal, but where there are pandas, there will be cute, fair foreign infants to stare at and stroke.
Ideally, the next development would be widespread alarm that the blond infants are being kidnapped to order to have their eyes harvested for desperate Shanghai tycoons with glaucoma, or maybe to be kept as exotic pets by a Beijing equivalent of the late musical performer and eccentric Michael Jackson. But since, to all right-thinking people’s intense disappointment, common sense is rearing its head and the story is dying down, we instead need some rumours about who started the panic.
There must be a distinct possibility that the flap was started by Disney, possibly in the hope that an anti-mainlander backlash at Ocean Park – possibly a lynching or two by outraged western parents – will help attract the tourist yuan back to The Mouse. Or it could be a Google-CIA plot to damage China’s reputation ahead of the forthcoming clash-of-cultures trade war. Or is it the dastardly Swedes, inundated with swarthy immigrants, looking to replenish the national gene pool with more Nordic stock?
Aha! None of these. A Hong Kong government spokesman has just announced that the authorities have discovered the source of all the terror: sandstorms in North China.