Mainlandization – swarming, chomping, pee-peeing, at a newspaper near you

It’s a life of surprises, watching Hong Kong’s social and political ferment over the years. Each time the rulers suppress or ward off discontent, it pops up again where you least expect it. Our leaders thought the people agitating for reform down at the Star Ferry in Central in the 90s had wandered off out of boredom; instead, they poured out in the early 2000s to demand and get Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s head. After Beijing made it clear there would be no democracy, the malcontents turned historic and occupied the Star Ferry site to defend the city’s heritage. Now the local administration has started to get on top of that issue, the masses rise up over something else: ‘Mainlandization’ and, specifically, ‘locusts’.

Noodles being dropped on trains, overcrowded maternity wards, cinema closures, unaffordable housing, guttural slurring chatter on the Mid-Levels Escalator, kiddies doing pee-pee in public, Dolce & Gabbana luxury hegemony, baby milk powder shortages, signs in simplified characters – it’s all coming to a head, not least in the world’s press. And while we’re not quite getting to pogrom/Kristallnacht levels of viciousness, ‘bastard running dog’ Hong Kong emotions are definitely getting borderline nasty where the entomological allusions are concerned.

For all its apparent efforts to convince its citizens to love the motherland – through National Education, Olympic flag-waving, astronaut visits and TV anthems – the Hong Kong government has successfully alienated local people from the nation and arranged the demonization of Mainlanders as the cause of Hong Kong’s biggest problems. It is the Hong Kong government that for years has had ample funding to ensure adequate maternity and other hospital capacity, but has chosen not to spend it. It is the Hong Kong government that throughout much of the 2000s has squeezed land supply to deliberately push up the cost of housing and business rents and cut supply of affordable homes. This is where the burgeoning ethnic/cultural hatred of voracious, swarming, chomping, ‘locusts’ comes from.

Our policymakers and planners were, in all fairness to them, perhaps too dense to foresee what size footprint a tiny, middle-class slice of the Mainland’s 1.3 billion people could stamp on the city. Or perhaps they are in fact more cunning, and this is all part of a plot by unpatriotic CE Sir Donald Tsang, the British running dog still in power, to split Hong Kong from the People’s Republic, use it as a base from which to subvert Party rule and treacherously deliver the country to evil foreign imperialist forces. Who knows?

Meanwhile, Beijing’s struggle to counter local reactionary devils continues. The accepted wisdom among the chattering classes is that tycoon Robert Kuok bought the South China Morning Post from Rupert Murdoch back in 1999 as a gesture of loyalty to Beijing, to keep the organ out of hostile hands, and that the paper has been a headache for the family ever since. How many of the Magnificent Seven post-Murdoch editors can you name? (Answer in the second-from-last paragraph here.)

Staffers at Asia’s greatest English-language newspaper are now joining the company’s Party Cell for struggle sessions and trying to get their tongues and throats around the irrrrr-ggghhhh cadences of Mandarin, as editor Number (lucky) Eight assumes office and wonders how long it will be before he wishes he were back at China Daily… 

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14 Responses to Mainlandization – swarming, chomping, pee-peeing, at a newspaper near you

  1. Rinky Dinky says:

    Come on. You love all this internecine strife. Hong Kong is getting what it deserves at last. Great.

    The farting relatives finally turn up and the new clothes of the upstart Hong Kong snobs drop to their ankles in shock, revealing the stained Chinese Department Store underwear they have been wearing all along.

    The same thing is happening at the Post. Hurrah!

  2. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Much though I respect the SCMP — look at the competition! — it’s Achilles heel has always been coverage of China, with its editorials in particular subtly alternating (following the successive editors?) between always-constructive suggestions for change of incidentals and a cowed silence.

    What Hemlock only alludes to is the mainland origin of the new editor: it does indeed seem a strange time to appoint him.

    I must beg to differ on the question of whether the govt has got a handle on the heritage of the “city”: the surviving heritage of the rural areas is being cut down every day, and the bureaucrats are not even wringing (or washing) their hands over the massacre.

  3. Walter De Havilland says:

    I really don’t think Hong Kong people can claim the high ground in terms any cultural superiority or even basic civilised behaviour. Just today I witnessed a young man (clearly a Hong Konger) emptying his nose on the floor outside Admiralty, with a resounding snort. After SARS and Bird flu scares you would have thought people had learned to use a tissue. Moreover, the litter and dog faeces that adorns our pavements (just take a walk along Bowen Road) can’t be blamed on those ‘from up north.’ In terms of behaviour in public, I find no difference between some Hong Kong people and the Mainlanders. Why is that? Because they are the same people.

    I suspect the birth issue, pushing up of property prices, and the underlying malaise in Hong Kong society, is the catalysis for these outpourings of anger. Perhaps its worth remembering Hong Kong is firmly, indisputably, part of China and if people want things to change then get out to vote. Unlike the Mainlanders, the Hong Kong people can exercise some democratic rights albeit limited. So use it for the good.

    I hope none of this comes to violence, although I suspect unless our passive government takes a stance then things could escalate and rapidly.

  4. Stephen says:

    @Rinky Dinky

    I don’t “love all this internecine strife” however it was always going to happen. We have had 15 years of a HKSAR Government promoting one country and stuff the inconvenient two systems bit.

    So now HK’ers are finding it difficult to book a public hospital maternity bed on top of their inability to pay their mortgage on one of the tycoons ludicriously expensive tiny concrete boxes.

    As they have no say in who governs this town, perfectly illustrated by the soon to happen succession farce of CE Henry Horse backed only by those few with their snouts in the trough, can you blame the minority who are now taking this out on mainlanders?

    BTW Does anyone still read the Pro-China Morning Post ?

  5. Big Al says:

    I got a free copy on a CX flight the other day, and it was shite.

  6. Groot Oore says:

    There are some vaguely compelling reasons to buy the SCMP, most on the editorial pages. The letters are usually good for a chuckle, and columnists Tom Holland and Alex Lo have become good reads.

    Alas, Jake van der Kamp, whenever he decides to submit a column, has become boring. Who would have thought.

    The bitter Michael Chugani is another columnist who deserves a mention, but only because the angry fellow has chips on both shoulders and somehow manages to say the same thing week after week, no matter what the topic is. Impressive stuff.

    Other than the columnists, most of the news carried in the SCMP can be seen on Pearl at 7.30pm the previous night and the sport on CNN in the morning before work.

  7. Walter De Havilland says:

    I do occasionally read the SCMP, if I need a digest of what was on the Internet two days ago. For a bit of fun I occasionally tally up the number of stories in the SCMP that I’ve seen elsewhere earlier. The amount of self produced content is falling and also very shallow.

  8. Old Timer says:

    It’s important not to confuse rudeness with uncouthness. In general, HKers tend to exhibit the former, and mainlanders the latter.

  9. Congee says:

    Care to parse that distinction, Old Timer?

  10. Sen says:

    Could someone kindly let me know when ‘these times for historical changes’ iss at an end, so that I can set my clock.

    A very good reason to visit is that Harry’s View is FLEE!!!!

  11. maugrim says:

    Mind you, I’ve seen far worse than what transpired in the MTR noodle incident, which seemed fairly mild.

    Alice Poon has this to say on her blog which sums things up for me:
    “Each year I visit Hong Kong, the place seems a little more distant than the last. In Causeway Bay, streets are packed to the point that it’s easy to feel claustrophobic. Mainland shoppers towing big and small suitcases jostling with locals. Self-important, curtained Guangdong-licensed cars competing for roadways with local cars. Strange faces. Unfamiliar Putonghua. Forever changing shop facades in the vicinity of Time Square.”

  12. Joe Blow says:

    I always make a point to grab the anorexic SCMP at my gym to read the horoscope and the comics (including Calvin, who has been re-running since around 1990).
    Actually the rudeness of Honkies is not as bad as in the old days. I find local kids quite well-behaved, overall. These days they will give up their seats to the elderly. Uncouthness of the mainlanders (unpolished behaviour): yes, sort of. But if you lived on the mainland, as I have, you understand the culture, and where they come from. Again, they are not as bad as they used to be. Remember how large groups of them used to sit on the floor inside the MTR stations, like 5-10 years ago ? You don’t see that anymore.

  13. Walter Wong says:

    Good point about the towing of suitcases. They’re everywhere! What is that all about?

  14. YauTsimMong says:

    Old Timer makes an interesting point, one which I have been considering for quite some time.

    I was trying to explain to a friend who was visiting Hong Kong for the first time that Hongkongers were not deliberately or malicious obnoxious but rather pathologically inconsiderate. Is this because Hong Kong society places no premium on many social niceties? Hongkongers are scrupulous in observing certain behavioural rules (accepting business cards correctly etc) but seem quite happy to shoulder-barge, hover directly in front of MTR turnstiles rummaging through their handbags and blindly walking along the footpath fixated on their mobile devices. My own theory is that because Hong Kong living areas are so rabbit hutch-like, inordinate amounts of time are spent in public. Hongkongers in public are in ambulatory cocoons and behave as though they were in their living rooms and therefore not required to pay heed to others around them. Maybe living in such a densely populated area requires residents to block out psychologically the existence of the teeming millions and pretend it is just you walking along the street.

    Mainlanders are, to use Australian slang, just ‘bogans’. Unpolished and uncouth, rustic in manner, they are more like hillbillies who have just won the lottery. Cue theme music . . .

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