Press monitors at the Hong Kong Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government will be noting some serious lapses of ideological correctness at the South China Morning Post today. Thuggish parallel traders plundering Sheung Shui’s supplies of infant milk powder roughed up one of the paper’s photographers. To take revenge, the editorial staff at Asia’s finest English-language journal do their bit for the Big Lychee’s nascent independence/autonomy/city-state movement…
First, they use the word ‘border’, in flagrant violation of the unwritten rule that the great wall of Immigration, Customs and barbed wire running from Lok Ma Chau to Sha Tau Kok is a ‘boundary’ and no more. (Yes, we all know you get ‘borders’ between counties, provinces and other sub-national jurisdictions; my late mother even had a border in her garden, and national sovereignty remained intact. But the clumsiness of the rule is the whole point: to jolt us and reinforce the fact that this is ‘One Country’.)
Second – and even more subversively – they refer to the uncouth pillagers of baby formula as ‘Chinese men’. The correct phrase is, of course, ‘Mainlanders’ or, better still, ‘Mainland compatriots’. The clear implication of the word ‘Chinese’ here is that Mainlanders are Chinese, therefore Hongkongers are not, as claimed by some anti-locust protestors, much to the deep distress of patriots and the embarrassment of Hong Kong’s leaders.
Third, the SCMP carries an article on restraining dogs – an obvious reference to a particularly obnoxious insult sometimes hurled by overly irate local citizens against visiting Mainlanders. This, frankly, is uncalled-for.
Ironically, by violently objecting to being photographed, the two milk-looters got their faces in print and on-line. One looks almost but not quite like a neighbour of mine and could be anyone. But the other is a stereotype Mainlander – right down to that hairstyle no-one would be seen dead with on this side of the, er, boundary, and that rather stylish ‘FINGERCROXX BIGFOOTX’ sweat shirt. (I have to Google it, of course. Seems it’s going out of fashion.) In fact, he’s almost more like a Mainlander than a real Mainlander.
Which makes me wonder whether rogue elements in the SCMP didn’t stage the whole incident to spread unpatriotic feeling among the community. This might seem far-fetched, but astute readers will have noticed a cunning plot to bring Mainlanders into disrepute in the form of the occasional ‘Mr Shangkong’ column in the business section. Unless I am seriously missing something very deep, the pieces, ostensibly by a pinyin-named writer, are devoid of substance, information or ideas. SCMP opinion pieces vary in weightiness, but this is off the scale – lighter than air. And there are excellent Mainland journalists out there, so this can only be a slur. There is no other explanation. And to think all this anti-Beijing treason is going on right under loyalist SCMP owner Robert Kuok’s nose.
I declare the weekend open in the hope that the Liaison Office goes easy on them.