Date
17 January 2017
A mainland student at HKBU wrote a complaint in Simplified Chinese about the use Traditional Chinese by the students union, sparking fierce criticism online. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook
A mainland student at HKBU wrote a complaint in Simplified Chinese about the use Traditional Chinese by the students union, sparking fierce criticism online. Photos: HKEJ, Facebook

HKBU student draws flak for protest over Traditional Chinese

A mainland youth pursuing studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has come under flak after he staged an unusual protest over the use of traditional Chinese characters at the university.

Netizens criticized the mainlander for suggesting that the university students union use Simplified Chinese in its internal communications within the campus, according to a Metro Daily report.

The backlash came after a photo was circulated in online forums that suggested that the mainlander had demanded a refund of his membership fee from the HKBU students union.

In the note that was put up on a campus notice board, the youth complained — in Simplified Chinese — that he cannot understand the emails sent by the union as they were in Traditional Chinese.

Adding an English line “Sorry, I cannot understand!”, the mainlander said there was no point in continuing his or her membership in view of the problem with the union’s written communications.  

The implied message to the union was that it should use Simplified Chinese that is used in mainland China, rather than the traditional Chinese method of writing that is in vogue in Hong Kong.  

As the post went viral, Hong Kong netizens responded with outrage.

Mainland students who have trouble reading traditional Chinese characters should terminate their studies in Hong Kong and go back to China, some commentators said.

One person said that mainland students should perhaps get themselves enrolled at US universities and try to persuade Americans to switch from English to Simplified Chinese.

Many people lashed out at the mainlander, saying that one needs to adapt and respect the local way of life when moving to a different place.

BUTV, the university’s TV channel, said other students posted messages on the notice board on campus, with comments such as “Please do not express views on behalf of mainland students” and “P.S. Please leave”.

The comments were written in German, Korean, Japanese, French and Traditional Chinese.

According to a mainland student who is familiar with the matter, it was not just an issue of a fellow citizen complaining about difficulty in reading Traditional Chinese messages from the students union.

The root of the problem could be traced back to a public notice written in Simplified Chinese characters by the university’s canteen operator, according to the source.

It is believed that the HKBU students union said in an open letter to the canteen operator that it should not issue notices in Simplified Chinese characters.

The operator should respect Hong Kong’s local culture and the welfare of the majority, the union is said to have instructed the canteen operator, making it clear that it is Hongkongers, and not mainlanders, who are the bosses in the city.

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