Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

HK furore over China prof’s remarks that Hong Kong is a land of ‘dogs’ and ‘thieves’ in thrall of British Colonialism: [Straits Times]

Indicative or divisive?

A row on a Hong Kong MTR train between mainland Chinese and local HK passengers has been escalated by a Peking University professor into a cultural clash.

Arguably, another pertinent reminder that the impression of the cultural and geopolitical homogeneity of Chinese can be quite far from the truth.

No stranger to controversy, the article ‘What has Professor Kong Qingdong done this time?‘ (Peking University, Nov 20, 2011) is indicative of his employer’s recognition that his role has, from time to time, ‘exceeded the premises of freedom of speech while ignoring a teacher’s basic principles’.

That said, the fact that such polarity of views can exist in China does point to an increased diversity of Chinese thought and expression.

A known critic of the free press and China’s more liberal news sources, this suppositional 73rd generation descendant of Confucius is a vocal supporter of Communist orthodoxy. He’s famous for a remark saying if “China’s journalists were all lined up and shot, I would feel heartache for not a single one of them”

A highly divisive statement by calling Hong Kongers ‘dogs’ as such can be reflective of China’s old guard with mindsets shaped by the cultural revolution. On most counts, such a broad value judgement can scarcely be regarded as a scholarly statement. On the other hand, if you watch the video in detail, Professor Kong’s assertion that Hong Kongers can take a ‘holier than thou’ attitude reminiscent of a ‘colonial hangover’ when it comes to dealing with mainland Chinese has been well documented.

In some ways it may be unfortunate this unravels during the Lunar New Year period. The spring festival’s intent is one of leaving the past behind with winter, this event may only serve to dredge up more division.

In our rapidly converging world of global production networks, it can be inadvertent that we find more and more common goals being met by diverging value systems.

It may not be my place to demarcate the role of academia, but as an supporter of the middle path, I think once we start to choose to impose rather than elucidate and illuminate, then such scholarship requires a moment of introspection and reflection.

For more, see:

Beijing professor and descendant of Confucius provokes anger by insulting Hong Kongers (Washington Post, Jan 23, 2012)

On the social media front: Follow Up on Peking University Professor Kong Qingdong’s Anti Hong Kong Comment (Bad Canto blog, Jan 22, 2012)

Catch both versions of the video (with subtitles and sans subs) here – Kong Qingdong: Hong Kongers are bastards, dogs and thieves (Shanhaiist, Jan 20, 2012). Also on the Shanghaiist, catch the original ‘skirmish’ here. Watch: Bitchfight between mainland tourists eating on the Hong Kong MTR with local passengers (Jan 15, 2012)

– – –

HK furore over China prof’s remarks
Academic’s name-calling rant infuriates HK people in the wake of subway train quarrel
Source – Straits Times, published Jan 22, 2012

BEIJING: A row in a Hong Kong subway train between mainland Chinese and local passengers has snowballed into an ugly exchange involving a Peking University professor after he labelled Hong Kongers as ‘dogs’.

It all began on Jan 15, when a Hong Kong man riding the subway chided a mainland family for letting their child snack in the carriage – which is not allowed – according to mainland and Hong Kong media reports.

The subsequent quarrel was videotaped by onlookers and put on the Internet, drawing comments from both sides of the Hong Kong border – the most scathing of which came from Peking University professor Kong Qingdong.

Speaking on a talk show on Internet television site tv.V1.cn last week, the Chinese-language professor repeatedly used the terms ‘dogs trained by colonialists’, ‘worshippers of the West’ and ‘bastards’ as he criticised Hong Kongers.

With an increasing number of Hong Kongers resenting mainland immigrants and visitors because of concerns that their living conditions and even birthrights will be threatened, Prof Kong’s remarks could not have come at a worse time.

They quickly drew intense fire from the former British colony, with a Hong Kong netizen reflecting the thoughts of many when he asked: ‘How could a Peking University professor spew vulgarities so thoughtlessly?’

Many netizens and media organisations in mainland China also criticised him for being insensitive.

The mainland’s China News Service quoted Associate Professor Denny Ho of Hong Kong Polytechnic University as slamming the 48-year-old for being ‘illogical’ in suggesting that being law-abiding was equivalent to being ‘servile’, while being lawless meant ‘having character’.

In his comments, Prof Kong had tried to argue that Hong Kongers were not law-abiding by nature, but had been drilled to be by their colonial masters.

‘So why should they feel superior to mainlanders since they have been trained to be the ‘running dogs’ of the British government?’ he asked.

He insisted that mainland Chinese were ‘truer’ to their own nature. ‘If a society had to maintain its order through strict laws such as hefty fines for littering, as happened in Singapore, its ‘law-abiding’ look does not reflect the true nature of its people,’ he said. ‘Instead, it shows they are a servile bunch who can be whipped into line.’

Over the weekend, the academic continued to put up a vigorous defence of his stance in China’s ultra-leftist website, Utopia.

But he also claimed in the commentary that his words had been ‘twisted’ by the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily Groups – whose newspapers are known to defy government control – and some Hong Kong media.

‘I’ve never intended to call all Hong Kongers ‘dogs’,’ he wrote, adding that he had used the epithet only for Hong Kongers who were mean to mainlanders.

He also said he had used the word ‘bastard’ to refer only to Hong Kongers who refused to speak Mandarin when interacting with mainland Chinese, not to all Chinese who could not speak Mandarin.

The issue also drew comments from prominent figures such as Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Henry Tang, who is now running for the chief executive post. The rule of law is one of Hong Kong’s core values, he said, and Hong Kongers should be proud of this heritage.

The Ming Pao Daily News cited him as calling for mutual understanding. Hong Kongers should try to understand mainlanders’ way of life, he said, while the latter should appreciate the freedom, openness and human rights practice of Hong Kong society.

But he also added: ‘I won’t make that sort of comment that Prof Kong made. A professor should observe his dignity.’

The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that YouTube had deleted the footage of Prof Kong’s talkshow, citing violation of the website’s policy ‘prohibiting hate speech’.


Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Government & Policy, Hong Kong, Lifestyle, Media, Nationalism, Overseas Chinese, People, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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