The British Council (which promotes the UK overseas) has removed adverts from the Hong Kong MTR which depicted the union flag with the slogan “This is GREAT Britain”, after a predictable rash of complaints from a city in which the union flag has become a symbol of protest.
The ads were put up in Admiralty MTR station last week to promote an education exhibition being held at the weekend but were taken down a few days early. They sparked widespread discussion on the Facebook sites of both private users and the British consulate, with some posters glorifying colonial rule.
Asked why the ads had been taken down, the British Council said some of the wording was “open to misinterpretation”.
On Facebook, one user wrote: “Yes! This is Hong Kong, here is Great Britain!”
Another wrote: “Great Britain built Great Hong Kong!” and “UK has always seemed to mean less at home than to its own nationals and admirers abroad.”
According to Asiancorrespondent.com:
In a study released on Thursday, the non-profit research body Ideas Centre asked more than a thousand Hong Kongers born between 1990 and 1999 on how they felt about their identity. While most see economic prosperity linked to the Chinese mainland, most would also rather keep the values they associate with the British legacy in the territory. 41% agreed that the city should strengthen its economic integration with the mainland, only 30% said that a cultural integration should be pursued. 22% were against further economic integration, but 39% opposed further cultural integration.
Strikingly, only 13% said they could imagine living and working on the Chinese mainland on a longer-term basis.
Five years before the city is scheduled to elect its Chief Executive by universal suffrage for the first time, distrust dominates not only young Hong Kongers’ attitude towards Beijing, it lives in a deeper-rooted skepticism that the country’s and the city’s politicians are working for the public good. 55% of those surveyed by Ideas Centre said that political parties did not represent their positions.
The handwringing by many older Hong Kongers about the (mostly) young protesters’ embrace of colonial imagery is largely misguided, it’s unlikely anyone wants to replace Chinese colonialism with British, rather the protesters have simply realised that nothing pisses off mainlanders like the sight of the union flag.