China v. Hong Kong: Locusts, Poodles And The Pregnant Nouveaux Riches

Tensions are simmering between locals in Hong Kong and the many mainland Chinese who come to spend their newfound riches, and even give birth, in the former British colony that in many ways is still set apart.

Shopping mall in Shanghai
Louis Vuitton is a favorite of Chinese tourists in Hong Kong (sprklg)


BEIJING – It's come down to old-fashioned name-calling. A spat between Mainland China and Hong Kong has turned decidedly ugly after a Chinese professor called the Hongkongese: "poodles' of the British crown, a reference to the decades of colonial rule. One public response from some in Hong Kong was to call Chinese "locusts."

The clash started last month when a visiting Chinese girl ate a cup of instant noodles in a Hong Kong metro car. When told off by a Hong Kong resident, other Chinese tourists supported the little girl by ridiculing the Hongkongese's non-standard Mandarin. (Hong Kong natives speak mostly Cantonese, another Chinese dialect)

Kong Qingdong, a Beijing University professor and famously controversial figure, responded to the incident by saying that those from Hong Kong "haven't lost their colonial thinking" and are obviously willing "poodles' of the British because they don't speak Mandarin and do not consider themselves as Chinese, even 15 years after sovereignty was officially turned over to Beijing.

The accusation immediately provoked outrage in the former British colony, which was heightened a few days later when store guards outside of a Dolce & Gabbana store in Hong Kong prohibited locals from taking pictures, though Chinese tourists were apparently allowed to snap away.

But even beyond these two incidents, other factors had already raised China-Hong Kong tensions. In Hong Kong, there is some bitterness that those from the mainland, once considered "rustic" and less civilized" are now the nouveaux riches with impressive purchasing power that dominates Hong Kong's trendy commerce. Complaints about the Chinese tourists being noisy, dirty and ignorant of rules are often heard.

Even more extreme is the growing tendency for pregnant Chinese women to go to Hong Kong to give birth to and thus get a Hong Kong resident identity for the child. There are even agencies that specialize in facilitating such trips. Hong Kong is still a much more cosmopolitan city than Shanghai and Beijing, and offers better education and job opportunities. For those who can't make it to the United States in the first place, Hong Kong is certainly a good alternative.

And now, all the accumulated discontent of the Hongkongese towards the Chinese has finally exploded. Five days ago, some Hong Kong civic groups sponsored a full-page newspaper advertisement calling openly on the Hong Kong authorities to stop the massive, "refugee-style invasion" by pregnant Chinese women, and stop allowing babies born of "doubly non-Hongkongese parents."

It was in this ad that the Chinese were referred to as "locusts'. That was followed by a long YouTube spot of redubbed pop music proclaiming the "anti-locust battle."

Read the original article in Chinese

Photo - sprklg

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!