Ex-footballer David Beckham caused something of a stir online after he lumped Hong Kong and China together on social media.
Beckham, who was in town recently as AIA’s new ambassador, posted a pretty bog-standard video of Hong Kong to Facebook and Instagram — timelapses of boats zipping across Victoria Harbour, the view from the Peak, that sort of thing — and topped it with a seemingly innocuous caption, “Great 48 hours in China ”
Harmless, right? Eh, no. As anyone who witnessed the great Arrival debacle of 2016 knows, there is no better way to raise Hong Kong netizens’ hackles than conflating the city with China.
“Please change to ‘Great 48 hours in Hong Kong’. We have our own government, currency, even football team!” one Facebook user commented. “I like you, but sorry, Hong Kong is Hong Kong. We are totally different from China!” another said.
“Hong Kong is not Chi-Na,” said one Instagram user, employing a derogatory wartime slur used by the Japanese (you remember, it was notably used by two democratically elected lawmakers who were later barred from taking their seats).
“No one cares about China. Hong Kong is not China and never will be,” another comment read.
While Beckham’s caption was changed to “Great 48 hours in Shanghai and Hong Kong ” about an hour after it was posted, that didn’t seem to please people either, as netizens from the other side of the border (presumably all of whom were conveniently on holiday, far away from the Great Firewall) got riled up by what they saw as Beckham’s cowing to Hongkongers.
“Why edited [sic] your post? You were absolutely correct, Hong Kong is undoubtedly part of China (Just Google Hong Kong handover ceremony lol),” a Facebook user said. “Anyway, it’s good to see someone finally realize that Hong Kong is merely an administrative district of China, just same level as Shanghai.”
While we believe that there’s no way to please everyone, we’d hazard a guess that Beckham’s going to tread a little more carefully with his social media captions. And emails.