Happy Lunar New Year to everyone following and subscribing to Passion Times, and yes, it's LUNAR New Year, not Chinese New Year. Last year, in my article 「Happy LUNAR New Year」 (which has since been missing due to an online attack on the Passion Times' server), I had argued why it is important to insist on calling it Lunar New Year and not Chinese New Year, but it seems the Chinese has recently caught onto the issue too.
Liu Wen, an international supermodel, was ganged up on by Chinese netizens because she used 「Happy Lunar New Year」 as her congratulatory greeting instead of 「Happy Chinese New Year」. In her defence, Liu said that she wanted to be inclusive of Vietnamese, Koreans and other Asian ethnicities that happen to celebrate the Lunar Calendar's New Year. The Chinese however would have none of it, insisting that since Liu is 「Chinese」 herself, she must use 「Happy Chinese New Year」 as well. However, similar to how previous cases of 「offensive acts」 against the Chinese people's fragile hearts turned out, Liu eventually bowed down to Chinese pressures.
This is not an isolated incident. The Guardian had published an article written by someone named Yuan Ren (former editor at Time Out Beijing), criticising the Sino community and British society at large in the UK for using 「Kung Hei Fat Choy」 as the Lunar New Year greeting rather than Mandarin Chinese's 「Xin Nian Kuai Le」, on the grounds that the former is a Cantonese greeting which Yuan Ren declared as obsolete as Chinese visitors to the UK are now mainly from the north and do not speak Cantonese. In addition, Yuan Ren also criticised the use of southern Lion Dances, which are vastly different from those up north, again on the grounds of visitors being mostly from northern China. According to this Yuan Ren, everything in Sino communities abroad should be in the northern styles because it is the northerners that are now the source of wealth and power, while southern styles should be eliminated. Is this not tantamount to a call for ethnic cleansing based on who has the money and political power?
Yet, this Chinese aggressiveness against anyone who offends their 「sensibilities」 has been on the rise long before 2018』s Lunar New Year. The hotel chain Marriott was attacked by Chinese netizens because its website had Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet listed as 「countries」. These Chinese netizens with 「hearts made of glass」 (a popular aphorism for Hong Kong and Taiwanese netizens that is synonymous with Chinese, often in replacement to the term 「people of the 『strong nation'」) then conducted a sweeping search online for any other international companies that have made similar 「offences」, through which they discovered that Zara and Delta Airlines had committed the same 「offence」. Chinese netizens were offended by what they saw as a Western attempt to 「split up their country」.
Later on, Mercedes-Benz quoted the Dalai Lama in a post on Instagram, which was again seen as 「offensive」 to the Chinese netizens because the Chinese regime had declared the Dalai Lama as a traitor for calling for Tibetan autonomy as promised to Tibetans before the Chinese invasion. In fact, anyone having anything to do with the Dalai Lama would incur China's displeasure. For instance, political figures had been 「warned with courtesy」 by their local Chinese consulates for entertaining the Dalai Lama. Another incident happened in August 2017, in which an Australian lecturer of Indian descent from the University of Newcastle was ganged upon by Chinese students for his statement about Taiwan being a country. The incident was filmed and posted up online, in which the lecturer declared that while he understood what the Chinese thought of the matter, he was entitled to having his own understanding. The students retorted by claiming that his 「understanding」 「hurt the feelings of all Chinese people」.
These incidents went back much further and it is simply impossible to list them all, but this Chinese aggressiveness towards denying other people's right to having their own political views has been on the rise, especially after Xi Jinping's call for China's might to grow internationally during the China's 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Fortunately, resistance to China's attempt at international thought control is growing within the free world, with the U.S. and Australian government intelligence exposing Chinese control of free thinking in their respective tertiary education institutions, and calling for greater restriction on these 「spies」 from disseminating China's propaganda. On the other hand, it will prove to be unfortunate for many Hong Kongers and Taiwanese – even Vietnamese, Koreans and Japanese – as most Westerners cannot tell the difference between them and the Chinese. It is therefore not surprising that Wong Yeung-Tat, Passion Time's founder and director, foresees an inevitable anti-Chinese sentiment to arise from around the world due to such Chinese obnoxiousness.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy. For us Hong Kongers around the world, it is imperative that we insist and persist to educate the people around us who we are as Hong Kongers, as a potential way to escape this coming sentiment. All of us around the world should use 「Lunar New Year」 as a way to combat the Chinese attempt at cultural hegemony and cultural genocide.
Happy LUNAR New Year!