Hong Kong actor's patriotic comments cause a stir at home and in mainland China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 12:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2014, 1:25pm

The patriotic speech of a Hong Kong actor in an interview on state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday triggered heated debate on social networks over the meaning of the love of one’s country.

“There is no family if there is no nation,” singer turned actor Deric Wan Siu-lun said when asked about his family traditions in the national nightly news bulletin.

During the Spring Festival holiday, CCTV prepared a special series of interviews, asking celebrities about their family traditions. Another interviewee was Taiwanese singer-songwriter Huang Kuo-lun.

Monday's 30-minute programme devoted more than three minutes to Wan’s interview, almost twice as long as the news briefs on the snowstorm that trapped thousands of migrant workers on the last day of the Spring Festival holiday, and the denial of the Nanjing Massacre by Japan’s national broadcaster.

“‘Hong Kong is not a country. It’s just a region.’ A customs officer told me at the checkpoint when I wrote down ‘Hong Kong’ in the form… I burst into tears when I saw the Chinese national flag rising after the handover, as I realised that I finally have my country!” Wan said in the interview.

On CCTV’s official microblog, Chinese citizens were immediate and scornful in their response. The interview received 1981 comments and 3379 reposts within an hour. Many said they would like to switch “Hukou” (residency) with Wan.

“Wan should be appointed the next Chief Executive,” a reporter named Liu Xiangnan wrote.

Others said they were sick of irrational criticism against patriots.

“There’s nothing wrong to love one’s country. It’s not the same as to love the government, or the party,” wrote a Beijing-based microblogger who called himself Big Bear.

The speech also caused a stir on HKGolden, one of the most popular online forums in Hong Kong.

“One has to take care of one’s family before he or she can rule a country. Please read more before you polish [the party’s] shoes,” wrote a netizen who goes by the name of Mr Rooster. His comment refers to a well known line from a Confucian classic.

It is the second time Wan has offended Hong Kong people with patriotic comments.

Last October, Wan wrote on his microblog claiming he would send the IP addresses of anti-patriotic commenters to the security department. Recent anti-rumour regulation has silenced many outspoken social celebrities online.

“I would slap him if he’s my son,” said Hong Kong actor Chapman To said in an interview with Apple Daily in response to Wan’s post.