Locusts, Hotdogs And Leftards
A Hong Kong Glossary of Hate Speech
In June 2016 a group of journalists and academics from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan met in Hong Kong at the invitation of the EJN and the Hong Kong Baptist University to establish an East Asia Media Forum to promote dialogue and media cooperation in a region where political tensions have been growing in recent years.
The Forum agreed that cross-border cooperation between journalists and academics will be essential to prevent media becoming instruments of propaganda. Part of avoiding the recruitment of journalists as foot soldiers in information conflict is the need to confront hate speech in the way we report on the affairs of others.The Hong Kong meeting suggested developing a simple glossary of terms that journalists should avoid if they want to encourage civil public discourse. As an example, we have assembled a glossary from everyday usage in Hong Kong.
There are three main types of hate speech:
a) dehumanisation by using insect and animal terminology.
b) terms for attacking political or ideological opponents.
c) political nicknames that mock particular targets.
The definition of hate speech is very controversial, in particular for b) and c) above, since metaphor and mockery (and satire) are often used in political and ideological debates.
Although this glossary is hardly exhaustive and should not be seen as a dictionary of banned words, as there must be debate about cultural significance, it nevertheless aims to alert people to the adoption of labels which ignite public hatred. Journalists and media have to be careful; rampant, casual and unthinking usage of such terms can do damage and may result in unintended victimisation.
These terms are common enough to be termed hate speech in the context of Hong Kong.
Locust (蝗蟲): Denigrates Mainland Chinese and is widely applied to new immigrants from the mainland, Chinese visitors and people who cannot speak fluent Cantonese. It breeds labels with similar meanings, eg “country of locust” (referring to China), “eggs of locust” (children who obtained HK residence whose parents are Mainland Chinese but not HK citizens).
Communist Dog (共狗): An insult to the Chinese Communist Party and members. Now widely used by media and people who mock parties and individuals perceived as working for the interests of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. Also widely seen in political spats where determination to protect Hong Kong’s interest from China’s interference is questioned.
Hong Kong’s Pig (港豬): Analogy attacking Hong Kong people regarded as “apathetic” or who avoid political and social controversies. They are seen as satisfied with the status quo, with basic needs fulfilled, but refuse to stand up for democracy and social change.
Police Dog (警犬): Insults the police by denigrating them as dogs, particularly those who blindly defend the status quo and the governing regimes.
Teaching Beast (教畜): An insult to “incompetent” teachers by denigrating them as animals.
Yellow corpse (黃屍): Insults those who supported the Occupy movement of HK in 2014, and later became a term for supporters of democracy and social activists. The Occupy movement once used yellow ribbons as their symbol of resistance. Chinese pronunciation of “ribbon” is similar to that for corpse.
Hotdog (熱狗): Specifically used for followers of Wong Yeung Tat and his allies. Wong heads a political group called Civic Passion, which is regarded as radical and rightist.
Christian sucks (耶撚): Depicts Christians as stubborn die-hards defying human rights and social equality. It stems from social controversies over gay and lesbian rights. Some supporters of this camp mock religious groups – often Christian – which oppose and criticise supporters of LGBT rights. The word ‘撚’ in Cantonese implies penis and humiliation.
Bastard (雜種): Insults Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the Chinese pronunciation of bastard is strikingly similar to his surname (Xi, 習) and his position as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (Zhong, 總, the short form of General Secretary).
II: Political and Ideological Name-Calling
This category covers name-calling during political or ideological conflict. Not yet clear whether this is hate speech or acceptable metaphor.
Leftard (左膠): Applied to those who possess “unrealistic” leftist ideology by sticking to the principles of social inclusiveness, peaceful and non-violent action while facing threats from China and HK Establishment. Also implies stupidity and stubbornness. Used by those who attack supporters of welfare for new immigrants and Mainland Chinese in Hong Kong and activists and politicians who insist on peaceful and non-violent means in the democracy movement.
Leftard of Greater China (大中華膠): Demeans HK-ers who adopt Chinese cultural identity in the course of the democratisation of Hong Kong. People who seek a reassessment of the Tiananmen Square massacre or the abolition of the one-party system in China are often labelled “leftards of Greater China”.
Indigenous Communist (土共): Used for pro-communists in Hong Kong. Originated in the pro-Taiwan press since the 1967 riot in HK initiated by Maoists to challenge colonial status. It implies blind loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and opposition to the democratisation of Hong Kong.
Fifty Cent Party (五毛): Comes from the allegation that people are paid 50 cents for publishing every online post in favour of the Chinese government. They are also said to block posts by flooding them with junk mail.
Servility (奴性): Derogatory depiction of the submissiveness of Chinese people to authority. Used for those perceived as unconditionally accepting the dominant ideology and who show ignorance of and apathy to social injustice.
The Taliban of ethics (道德塔利班): Applied to those who uphold moral absolutism and compel others to observe high moral standards, which is sometimes regarded as unrealistic.
Peaceful, Rational, Non-violent and No-swearing (和理非 非): Political terminology for moderate resistance (using lawful means) by democrats. It differentiates moderate democrats from radical activists and is often adopted by media or radicals to satirise democrats from well-known parties and organisations.
Banquets, Cakes and Dumplings (蛇齋餅粽): Satirises the sweeteners offered by the pro-Establishment camp in exchange for votes. Demeans partisan voters for this camp.
Fake Refugee (假難民): Demeans those seeking asylum and residence in Hong Kong, particularly from South East Asia. “Fake” implies they are driven by socio-economic interests and not political repression. In some media coverage they are associated with crime and social problems.
III: Political Nicknames
Common in media discourses and everyday conversation. They may not be regarded as hate speech by most Hong Kong people. However, their derogatory implication is well understood.
Loving Mother (慈母): Satire on police violence. The term came from a broadcast interview with former HK Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai Hung, when he described the protective role of police as of a “loving mother”.
689: Refers to the unrepresentative election system and HK’s Chief Executive Leung Chung Ying. Stems from the 689 out of 1200 votes won by Leung from an election committee in 2012, which made him the head of Hong Kong’s administration. It has become the most widely-used nickname for Leung.
The Wolf (狼英): Describes the unfaithful and repressive image of Leung Chun Ying.
Lobster (龍蝦): Metaphor for the bad fashion sense of Leung’s wife, Regina Leung Tong Chin Yee. Originated from a red gown she wore which made her look like a lobster.
In addition to these, here are some examples in use in China (provided by Yuan Zeng of the City University in Hong Kong):
剩女 Leftover women: Single women in China aged 27 and above
港灿 Gang Can: Hongkongers
小日本 Xiao Riben: Small Japanese
日本鬼子 Riben Guizi: Japanese ghost
洋鬼子 Yang Guizi: Foreign ghost
棒子 Bangzi (stick): Korean 阿三 A San (three): Indian
强国 Qiangguo (strong nation): Used by Apple Daily in HK to refer to China
大陆客 Da Lu Ke (tourists from Mainland China): Now derogatory after extensive use by some HK media
台巴子 Tai Bazi: Taiwanese
Turning the Page of Hate
A media campaign for tolerance in journalism
Main photo by Cheung Yin on Unsplash