Hong Kong ad brands Chinese as `locusts`

A controversial advertisement in a Hong Kong daily branding Chinese as "locusts" has evoked angry reactions in China.

Beijing: A controversial advertisement in a Hong Kong daily branding Chinese as "locusts" has evoked angry reactions in China amid growing resentment among people in the island city over rising mainland influence.

The Hong Kong-based Apple Daily carried a full-page advertisement yesterday demanding the local government stop pregnant women from the mainland from entering Hong Kong, which enjoys status of special administrative region (SAR) after the former British colony was brought under control of China 15 years ago.

The ad features a huge locust over Hong Kong`s skyline with a headline saying, "Do you want Hong Kong to pay USD 1,000,000 every 18 minutes to raise babies whose parents are not permanent residents here?"

"Hongkongers have had enough!" the ad said, adding that people there have tolerated mainlanders` craze for "safe baby formula, self-guided tours and advanced educational resources”, among other things.

The accusations sparked a heated debate after the ad was circulated by microbloggers in the mainland.

Reacting to the advertisement some of Web users said that the words in the ad were much too strong considering the assistance and support that the mainland provides to Hong Kong.

One of the entries on Sina Weibo, China`s microblogging site, has been reposted around 97,000 times and received over 30,000 comments, the Chinese state run Global Times reported today.

The ad campaign came amid several disputes between people in the two areas, which reflected growing mainland phobia in the SAR and continuous debate on national identity, it said.

Analysts say growing differences between mainlanders and people of tiny Hong Kong is emerging as a major concern for Chinese leadership as the rift continue to widen.

Many from mainland have chosen to give birth in the SAR in recent years so that their children can get permanent residency there.

According to figures from Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong, out of the 88,500 newborns in the region in 2010, more than 45 percent, or 40,000, were children of mainland mothers.