Of all the weighty issues about self-rule and democracy
confronting China and Hong Kong, the former British colony
that reverted to mainland control in 1997, who could have
imagined it would come to this?
A 2-year-old boy defecating on a Hong Kong sidewalk has
elicited an increasingly mean-spirited fight between some
mainland Chinese and Hong Kong residents, who are exchanging
words, including curses, and threatening to exchange bodily
It started April 15 when a mainland couple shopping in Hong
Kong allowed their toddler to go on a crowded sidewalk in the
Mong Kok district. An offended Hong Kong man started to take
photos, whereupon the shrieking mother grabbed his memory
card and started to scuffle with him on the street. Another
Hong Kong man tried to seize the family's stroller.
"Don't you have kids? Don't your kids need to use the
toilet?" the mother screamed, while the father held the
Police arrived and booked the mother on charges of assault
and the father on receiving stolen property - to wit, the
memory card his wife had seized from the camera.
Waggishly called "Bladdergate" (although video of the child
caught in the act shows more than urine involved), the
altercation has become a defining incident in the strained
The stink has hardly dissipated. On Sunday, a dozen or so
demonstrators at the giant Harbor City mall in Hong Kong
mocked mainlanders by squatting and pretending to defecate on
a photo of Mao Zedong and brandishing toilet paper.
One wore a pig mask and another dressed as a Red Guard. A
skirmish nearly broke out between the protesters and offended
customers and staff, who screamed at one another across the
The Communist Party's official Global Times weighed in
Wednesday, denouncing the Hong Kong protesters as "skinheads"
"This handful of radicals in Hong Kong remind us of the
rampant skinheads and neo-Nazis in Europe. Xenophobia is the
cult of these groups," the paper opined. "We need to fight
back and overwhelm any forces that try to harm the integrity
of the nation."
Hong Kong, which has a population of about 7 million,
receives more than four times that many visitors from the
mainland each year.
Residents complain that the deluge has left Hong Kong with
impassable streets, skyrocketing prices and shortages of
consumer goods, especially products like baby formula.
Posters and banners have gone up denouncing the mainlanders
as "locusts." Facebook pages are plastered with photographs
of visitors engaging in what the British-mannered Hong Kong
residents consider uncivilized behavior like eating on
subways or allowing children to relieve themselves in the
streets, a habit common in the Chinese countryside.
"Many people think this is ridiculous, but it is a serious
matter," said one of the activists, 24-year-old Hong
Kong-born Sky Ip. "There are big cultural differences between
China and Hong Kong, and big political differences. I worry
about our future."
Some Chinese mainlanders are fighting back. One mainland
blogger last week suggested on a forum hosted by Tianya.cn,
"Let's take our children to Hong Kong and let them pee and
poo everywhere and let's see which idiot will come and take
pictures of us"-a threat that made headlines in Hong Kong
The dispute is a boon to punsters and the butt of jokes, but
the hostility is not funny to everyone. Chinese authorities
have considered a travel advisory warning mainlanders about
visiting Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong-based South
China Morning Post.
Anti-mainland activists are planning a protest May 4 at the
home of Hong Kong's secretary of commerce and economic
development, Greg So Kam-leung, who dared to suggest that
Hong Kong residents learn to be more tolerant.
According to one advertisement for the protest, supporters
are urged to relieve themselves in front of his home-at least
using colored water and fake feces.