China and Hong Kong: Train Scuffle Ignites Cross-Border Fury

A YouTube video showing a dispute on a train in Hong Kong in which a mainland China tourist was criticized by passengers for eating food with her child inside the cabin, has triggered a fierce cross-border debate between mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people. As if tempers were not already flaring high, a Beijing University Professor, Kong Qingdong, added fuel to fire with his remark on a mainland online television channel that Hong Kong People are “running dogs” [lapdogs].

Below is a local news report on the subway train dispute on January 15, 2012. YouTube user Languagelover7 has added subtitles in English at the top of the screen:

The unedited version can be found here [zh]. It has attracted more than five million views within four days. Below is an explanation of the situation from the Hong Kong side:


On that day I was with my girlfriend at Hung Hom Station. All the seats in the cabin were taken. On one side was an adult and three children, on the other side were three adults with their luggage. Later, I saw the mother pouring some noodle snack into the hands of one kid, while the other two girls were holding some candies. The kid with the noodle snack spilt some on his clothes and on the floor. I used my limited Mandarin [standard Chinese of mainland China], pointed at the “No eating allowed” sign in the cabin, and told them: ‘Excuse me, you can't eat here’. What happened next was a round of defense. The mom said that only the kids were eating, that she was about to take it away, and that it was none of my business… I told her that I saw her eating as well… I knew I could not change their attitude and was about to shut up, but then her friends sitting opposite to her, sneered at me: “Their Mandarin is so lousy.” I got so angry and talked back in Cantonese: ‘My Mandarin is lousy! This is Hong Kong, you should speak in Cantonese!’ They kept on defending themselves in loud voices. A man in the cabin stood up by my side: “Shut up! It's so noisy here! Just keep on eating OK? How could you yell like this when you have done wrong? Should I call the railway staff?” As they continued to speak loudly, the man pushed the button to call staff when the train reached the next station. And I waved the railway staff over to take care of the situation. What happened next, you can see on the YouTube video.

There are two major reactions to the video in Hong Kong. Some criticize the lack of etiquette by mainland Chinese; and others feel there is no need to make such a big scene. The most popular comment on the YouTube thread is made by suilaam321:

@MrDrxchannel 請問你有看part1了嗎 你有聽到片主被嘲笑嗎? 中國大陸沒這麼糟糕?也許是小部份人吧 暑假最多中國大陸人來香港的時候 我分別去了香港迪士尼和海洋公園 但情況是 無論去到那一個主題公園 都會有大陸人插隊 當然我沒有說全部大陸人都這樣 也許你會說香港人也一樣 但香港人一般被指責後 都會乖乖排隊 我遇到的卻是 我只說叫他們不要插隊 同行插隊的那個女人便開始發爛 說前面有人幫排隊之類 試想想如果每個人都這樣 會有秩序嗎? 最後我只好找職員 那個人卻理直氣壯說 邊隻眼見到佢有插隊? 最後卻鬧多事 以粗口相對 請問這還又是否需要容忍?

@MrDrxchannel Did you see part One? Don't you see how the man was being mocked? Mainland Chinese are not that bad? Perhaps a minority of them are so. During the summer holiday when tourism from mainland China to Hong Kong peaks, I went to Disneyland and Ocean Park. No matter where I went, I could see Mainland Chinese jumping ahead in queues. Of course not all mainlanders are like that. Maybe you'd say Hong Kong people are the same. However, in the case of Hongkongers, usually when you point out their wrong doing, they would get back in line. When I asked a mainland Chinese not to jump the line, the woman when crazy and kept saying that others were jumping the queue too. If everyone does this, will there ever be order in society? I called staff. But the woman said there was no proof that she jumped the line, and cursed at me that it was none of my business. Do we have to put up with this?

As for the response from mainland Chinese, there are more moderate but critical ones, such as this one made by Wen Yunchao on Facebook [zh]:


Hong Kong people hate mainlanders eating in the train because according to subway regulations, it is forbidden. Moreover, it is mainlanders violating the regulation. But Hong Kong people do not hate people speaking loudly in public transportation, because there is no regulation against it, and it's Hong Kong people talking. This has nothing to do with etiquette nor civilization.

The most controversial comment from mainland China popped up on January 19 on online television, in which Beijing University Professor Kong Qingdong said that most Hong Kong people were corrupted by their colonizers and are “running dogs”.

Languagelover7 has also added English subtitles to this video [now offline] and uploaded to YouTube.

The undercurrent of the tension between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese has everything to do with the increasing influence of Beijing government in Hong Kong – as indicated by the official visit of future premier Li Keqiang in August 2011. The political tension has surfaced in several recent cultural and social conflicts such as the public scandals over infant formula milk powder shortage; mainland pregnant women taking up local hospital resources; the “invasion” of mainland Chinese tourists; and the official status of Cantonese language in Hong Kong.

Below is an agitated response on Kong's TV interview made by Tinykylei in her forum [zh] (sic) on January 20 that touches on the broader issues:

Wow …. this is with English subtitle and the translation is pretty accurate … can't believe a mainland Chinese “Scholar” said such a thing – why everyone has to speak Mandarin ? It's right for people can speak in their mother tongue but when you said mainlanders yelling in Hong Kong, and the HK citizen speak in Cantonese they are “dog” and not civilize … can you please check what you have just said again? the HK person also speaking in their mother tongue … I had enough of you CCP and brain-washed mainlanders – go on, keep on sending Mainland Chinese to mix the people and let the rich Mainlanders buy house and stay here, poor mainlanders come to give birth and take the social welfare, and take over the city, you better kill all the HKers who born in HK before 1997 as well


  • nulle

    you forgot that the 73rd generation descendant of Confucious (Beijing University Professor, Kong Qingdong) stated “HKG people are dogs. People who doesn’t speak Manadrin (worldwide) are bastards.”

    the guy still denies what he said despite having him on tape saying the above statement.

    Funny how Beijing University isn’t making this professor apologize. (indirectly condoning/supporting this professor and his views.)

  • […] Hong Kong and mainland China has mushroomed in recent months. While small conflicts, such as a train scuffle, have ignited fury, the recent introduction of a cross-border self-drive tour scheme, signed by the […]

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