“If you politicise the debate between simplified and traditional characters and blame those who use a certain form, you are being irrational and impolite,” according to a column in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, commenting in the light of the ongoing controversies between simplified and traditional characters in Hong Kong.

Tiananmen Square. Photo: zcool.com

It also said that some Hong Kong radicals are trying to assert “cultural superiority” by insisting that traditional characters have a longer history. Many simplified characters are derived from traditional forms of calligraphy, it said.

Simplified characters are a set of Chinese characters with reduced numbers of strokes, currently in widespread use in China. However, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao have always maintained their use of traditional characters.

Why so sensitive? 

The newspaper cited the controversy which arose after fashion designer Victoria Beckham’s company made an announcement, using simplified characters, that she would open a shop in Hong Kong.

Photo: StandNews.

It asked: “Why is Hong Kong, as a special administrative region, so sensitive towards simplified characters?” The article noted that there are many examples of the use of simplified characters in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, “because of the need to connect with the Chinese market.”

The column also said: “there should not be political meanings attached” to the two different forms of characters and that an open attitude should be maintained.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.