Feb 01, 2012
A row between Hongkongers and mainlanders is reaching boiling point after internet users raised more than HK$100,000 in less than a week to finance a full-page "anti-locust" advertisement in a Chinese-language newspaper in the city.
Critics, urging the government to uphold Hong Kong's values or face a social crisis, warn hostility towards mainlanders will only worsen.
A full-page ad featuring an image of locusts - a label used to refer to mainland visitors among sections of the city's web community - appears in today's Apple Daily, according to the organiser of the fund-raising campaign on the Golden Forum site, a user calling himself Yung Jhon.
|Attack of the Locusts|
"[Mainlanders] have already crossed our bottom line," said Yung Jhon, who refused to disclose his real name. "Why are mainland mothers flooding in to take up resources in public hospitals, getting our benefits and social welfare? Why do mainlanders ... refuse to follow our rules and order? We can't accept that."
Culture critic Jimmy Pang Chi-ming warned the hostility had reached a critical point and welcomed the ad. "It not only shows Hong Kong has freedom of speech, but also shows mainland leaders just how serious this cultural clash has become," he said, adding that the dispute reflected resistance towards mainland culture. "Hong Kong people do not want Hong Kong to become mainland China."
|Anti-locusts demonstration in Hong Kong last week|
Denny Ho Kwok-leung, associate professor at Polytechnic University's Department of Applied Social Science, said placing the ad in a mainstream newspaper indicated the row was unlikely to end any time soon. He warned that the city's authorities must uphold Hong Kong's core values, including the rule of law and freedom of speech. "It is very important for the police and the courts to stick to the principles because if they cannot do that, people will lose their faith in the system, and Hong Kong will collapse in no time," Ho said.
The row broke out at the start of last month when Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana allegedly banned locals from taking pictures outside its Canton Road flagship store, causing a mass protest.
|Prof. Kong Qingdong|
Web users coined the term "locusts" to describe mainlanders who consume resources in the city - including delivering babies here in order to obtain benefits - and splash their cash, on the property market and at luxury shops, with the effect of driving up rents and forcing out small businesses.
Residents are also disgruntled at the increasing use of simplified Chinese characters. Images of signs bearing such characters have circulated widely online.
"We hope the authorities can pay attention to this worsening cultural clash," said Yung, who claimed he was twenty-something and worked in the construction sector. "Now we will see if the government really listens to the people's voice."
He said all the banking transactions for funding the ad were displayed on Facebook and Golden Forum, the two social media platforms he used to stage the campaign. (SCMP)
"Locust World" adapted from "Under Mt. Fuji" MV sung by Eason Chan