26 October 2016
Badmouthing Hong Kong seems to be the popular trend on mainland social media. Photo: Internet
Badmouthing Hong Kong seems to be the popular trend on mainland social media. Photo: Internet

Why HK bashing on mainland social media is bound to intensify

Expect the online mudslinging between mainland and Hong Kong netizens to intensify.

In fact, for mainlanders, saying a good word about Hong Kong may even be considered politically incorrect.

Posts on WeChat defending Hong Kong’s “core values” or promoting “nativism” won’t be allowed to stay online for long by Chinese censors, while those criticizing the territory’s “wrong ways” will get millions of shares among netizens.

In a commentary last year, Tencent’s news team appealed to mainland users to abandon their “benefactor mindset” when it comes to cross-border relations, referring to the thinking that Hong Kong is acting like a spoiled, ungrateful child despite all the support it is getting from China.

Later, the Guangdong provincial party propaganda department reportedly ordered the article to be removed.

And so the Hong Kong bashing continues on mainland internet forums and social networking platforms.

It seems the campaign to denounce Hong Kong’s “recalcitrant” attitude towards Beijing is not only a safe subject but also being subtly encouraged.

Almost 18 years after the territory’s return to Chinese sovereignty, many mainland netizens look at Hong Kong as a place of traitors, British lapdogs, nest of subversives against the Communist Party, a Fragrant Harbor that now stinks. In short, hopeless.

While mainlanders stress that Hong Kong is part of China, many of them speak of Hongkongers in the same breath as Japanese militarists or Taiwan secessionists, an attitude that seems to suggest they never genuinely regard the city as one of their own.

All this hostility is only further alienating Hong Kong people from mainlanders.

One of the hottest such posts on Chinese social media recently was one by Liu Heng (劉恆), who, according to his own account, lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years but decided to return to the mainland rather than seek right of abode in the city.

His decision has been hailed by mainland netizens as a source of national pride, especially after the Hong Kong government suddenly suspended its capital investment entrant scheme for mainland immigrants earlier this year, which caught many communist cadres and entrepreneurs off guard.

In his post, Liu cites examples of the territory’s decline. He says compared with Macau’s economy, which has been advancing by leaps and bounds, Hong Kong is suffering from a decade-long stagnation in the salaries of ordinary workers. He also cites Alibaba’s decision to abandon the city as the venue for its landmark IPO.

Apparently, Liu doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Macau is now grappling with a waning gambling sector, its only pillar industry, while Hong Kong’s median monthly household income increased by 30 percent from 2006 to 2013, according to government figures.

And Alibaba chose to list in New York because its first choice, Hong Kong, rejected the technology giant’s two-tiered voting rights structure in order to protect the interest of investors and uphold fair play.

Liu is also profoundly worried about Hong Kong’s financial sector, noting that the trading and clearing systems used by local brokers are “medieval” in terms of capacity and transaction speed and that the city’s bourse operator still charges fees for real-time information.

But Hong Hao (洪灝), chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings, told Global Times that Liu’s conclusion may be based on trading platforms for individual investors, who account for less than 20 percent of Hong Kong’s total stock trading. Hong explained that institutions are the real players in the city’s stock market.

As to trading speed, the data center of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing in Tseung Kwan O, inaugurated in 2013 as one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, can handle 30,000 transactions per second, a capacity that will increase to 150,000 transactions per second after upgrade. The market’s actual peak demand is around 3,000 transactions per second.

As for access to real-time information, it’s available at many local financial websites for free.

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EJ Insight writer

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