Facebook commenters are speculating if the Hong Kong German Consulate General’s word of the week was a reference to the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and his now famous phrase “in 1500 metres, I am the king… I am the new world.”

Sun said the words when asked if he would beat rival Mack Horton at their next event, following Horton’s controversial remark that he had no “time or respect for drug cheats.” Sun tested positive in 2014 for using a banned stimulant, which he said was prescribed for heart palpitations.

Following Horton’s remark, Chinese people took to Weibo to demand an apology from the Australian swimmer. The Chinese swim team also condemned Horton’s words, saying: “we think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers. It is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing. We strongly demand an apology from this swimmer.”

Word of the week. Photo: German Consulate General Hong Kong via Facebook and YouTube screenshot.

The consulate’s word of the week was the verb “sich entschuldigen,” to apologise, and the accompanying sentence was “he must apologise to the king!”

The post received 15,000 likes and 412 shares by 5:20pm. One commenter asked in the comments section “To ‘1500
meter king’?” Another said “to the King, to the new world.”

Timely references

German Consulate’s word of the week. Photo: German Consulate General Hong Kong via Facebook.

The consulate introduces one German word every week and is often considered to be referencing politics and contemporary issues. When missing bookseller Lee Bo – who some suspect was kidnapped – maintained that he “smuggled” himself to the mainland, the consulate introduced the word “entführen,” meaning to abduct.

In July, Rebecca Li Bo-lan was removed from her role as acting Head of Operations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption because she did not “meet criteria.” The consulate introduced the word “unbefriedigend,” meaning unsatisfactory, a few days later.

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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.