The overseas press is rarely as interested in Hong Kong as when a Mainland baby goes viral doing a pee-pee in the street. The angle of the reports is usually broadly sympathetic to the Big Lychee, an international city inundated with backward peasants from over the border who don’t know how to behave in polite and decent society. It’s essentially a light, even funny, story to take readers’ minds of all the gloomy stuff happening in the world.
But this misses the point. There is nothing amusing going on. Any fair-minded person should feel sorry for the couple whose toddler had to relieve itself and whose dispute with passers-by ended up all over the media; any fair-minded person should criticize those passers-by for taunting them and filming it. The story is that, to many people in Hong Kong, this bullying of a young couple and traumatization of their child were – however unpleasant – sadly necessary.
It sounds like a ludicrous exaggeration to say Hong Kong is under siege, being invaded and undermined. Except if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, like much of the Central-CWB-TST triangle most days, or at Admiralty MTR station, or lining up for a kindergarten admission form. Or you notice that corruption cases involving Mainland businessmen, assaults on journalists, interventions by Beijing officials in local matters and numerous other horrors have become regular events. Through no fault of its own, the poor little mite peeing in the gutter represents these things.
The Mainland media aren’t in any doubt that this is a conflict of values and a struggle for control. They rouse anger among domestic audiences with tales of arrogant Hong Kong people’s cruelty, and then satisfy them with assurances that the colonial running dogs feel humiliated by their dependence on and irrelevance to the glorious motherland. Mainlanders plot mass poo-ins in Hong Kong to teach the city a lesson, of the sort also due the Taiwanese, not to mention Japanese, Filipinos, Americans and all the rest.
Experience has shown Hong Kong people that unless you are a major landlord, property developer or New Territories mafia boss, there is only one way to confront and persuade those in power. It happened with Article 23, and it happened with National Education; the only thing that works is physical presence and means.
We declare the weekend open with the message to the overseas press that this is the real, intriguing story: people are being forced to choose between tormenting innocent children and losing their values and their city. Meanwhile, officials are studying a possible cap on Mainland visitors.