In response to a Hong Kong Standard article which accused The South China Morning Post of self-censorship, SCMP editors defended their decision to avoid printing the racial epithet “locusts” when referring to Mainland Chinese:
We read the Hong Kong Standard’s report on A2, “Self-Censorship whiff in ‘locust’ ban” with surprise.
For those who missed it, the senior South China Morning Post editors decided to issue guidance to our newsroom on the use of emotive words, specifically the term “locust”, a patently offensive term used by a group of Hong Kong protesters to describe mainland Chinese.
[…] “We started from the position that the SCMP stands for responsible journalism which is free from bias. We do not stereotype, we do not tolerate bigotry or prejudice and we do not use racial epithets.
“The term ‘locust’ is clearly being employed as a slur and there is no reason for such inflammatory language to routinely feature on our news file and risk becoming seen as SCMP-endorsed shorthand to describe people from the mainland. [Source]
Last week, The International Business Times reported on “anti-locust” protests in Hong Kong which called for restrictions on Mainland Chinese tourists:
Groups of protesters marched through the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon on Sunday, demanding that the Hong Kong government take measures to curb the numbers of mainland visitors in the autonomous territory. These visitors, who are dubbed “locusts” by their detractors, are accused of hogging the already congested city’s resources and overwhelming locals. A scuffle broke out at the beginning when counterdemonstrators also showed up, until police intervened.
According to the South China Morning Post, protesters marched along Canton Road, a luxury shopping street that is a popular destination for mainland tourists, holding up signs that read “Go Back to China” and “Reclaim Hong Kong.”
One visitor named Ma He, originally from Shanghai, happened to see the protests. “Are they not Chinese themselves? I heard that Hong Kong people were educated and civilized. It seems I was wrong,” he said. [Source]
Last weekend thousands of journalists and free speech advocates gathered to protest Beijing’s increasing media influence in the semi-autonomous territory. Mark C. Eades has more on the press freedom protest in a blogpost for the Foreign Policy Association.