Kong Qingdong, Chinese professor, sparks outrage in Hong Kong

A seemingly small incident spiraled into tension between between mainland China and Hong Kong, when a mainland girl was chastized for eating on the subway in Hong Kong. Responding to a video of the incident, a Chinese academic called Hong Kong natives “dogs of British imperialists” and “cheats”, according to the Guardian.

Kong Qingdong, a professor at Peking University who claims to be a descendant of the famous philosopher Confucius, according to the AFP, said, “As far as I know, many Hong Kong people don't regard themselves as Chinese. Those kinds of people are used to being the dogs of British colonialists — they are dogs, not humans.”

The comments sparked outrage in Hong Kong and The Washington Post reported scores of protesters gathering outside the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, denouncing Qingdong and parading dogs.

Qingdong was commenting on an earlier incident that went viral, where Hong Kong locals reportedly told a mainland girl to stop breaking rules by eating on the subway. The subway incident was an illustration of the cultural clash between Mandarin-speaking mainlanders and Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong natives who view the mainlanders’ behavior as boorish.

Another incident that sparked protests happened when Italian retailer Dolce and Gabbana blocked locals from taking photographs in one of its Hong Kong stores but allowed mainlanders and foreigners to do so. The Wall Street Journal reported on how this was perceived as discrimination in favor of wealthier mainlanders, forcing Dolce and Gabbana to issue an apology, but not before at least 1,000 protesters forced the store in Kowloon to shut down.

More on GlobalPost: High-fashion protests in Hong Kong

Though the transfer of power of Hong Kong from Britain to China happened 15 years ago, Hong Kong residents still see themselves as separate from mainland China. According to a University of Hong Kong poll cited by TIME, the number of respondents identifying themselves as Hong Kong citizens above all was the highest in 10 years, whereas the number who saw themselves as Chinese was the lowest in 12 years.

More on GlobalPost: China cuts 'excessive entertainment' from TV (VIDEO)

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.