Following a viral video that captured a quarrel between a female student from the mainland at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and some local members of the school’s student union (CUSU) about pro-independence posters on campus, another video clip was widely circulated on September 8, in which Ernie Chow 周竪峰, former CUSU president, used derogatory language in a verbal clash with a Mandarin-speaking student.
The dispute broke out when a group of mainland students were attempting to cover existing pro-independence posters on the CUHK Democracy Wall with countering ones (in Chinese) that declare “CUSU is not CU,” “Sorry, we refuse to be presented,” and “Such a clown fighting for independence. F**king idiot.” The video begins with a mainland student chanting “This is what pro-independence activists came for,” to which Chow replies with insulting language in Cantonese, “F**k your mother! Go back to China, you Chinese people! Chee-na people!” Chee-na 支那 is commonly regarded as an offensive term to describe people of Chinese origin because this is how the Japanese referred to China during its occupation of the country before and during World War II.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, CUHK has vowed to open an investigation into the incident. “The university strongly condemns the student’s use of a derogatory slur against China to engage in malicious personal attacks,” a spokesperson from the school said. “The student’s offensive statements are hurtful toward all of those killed during World War II as well as their descendants, and defy the code of ethics and the expectations of society — it is saddening.”
However, Chow expressed no regrets about his use of expletives. On his personal Facebook account, Chow said (in Chinese), “I am willing to be the first person in Hong Kong to be convicted for using the word Chee-na.”
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