The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s branch in Hong Kong has opened an official Facebook page, leading Hong Kong internet users to flood the page with angry comments.
On Tuesday, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong held a launch ceremony, pressing a button that uploaded its first post onto Facebook. The social network is censored in the mainland.
Deputy commissioner Tong Xiaoling said that the page administrator would actively respond to comments from internet users.
“The opening of this official Facebook account improves our public affairs and diplomatic work,” she added. “It constructs a new platform for communication between the commissioner and the Hong Kong public.”
Mixture of languages and scripts
The posts on the Facebook page so far employ an unpredictable mixture of spoken Cantonese, formal Chinese and the English language. They are written in a mixture of traditional and simplified Chinese script.
Introducing the role of the office, one Cantonese-language post read: “Hong Kong implements ‘One Country Two Systems’ – we believe everyone knows this – and the country has a foreign ministry to take care of state-to-state relations.”
“Well, Hong Kong is not a country, so we take care of Hong Kong-related diplomatic matters.”
好啦！咁其實我地係負責咩工作呢？香港實行“一國兩制”，相信大家都知啦，國家有外交部去處理國與國之間的關係，咁香港唔係一個國家，同香港相關外交事務就由我地負責啦。That’s why we exist.
Posted by 中華人民共和國外交部駐香港特別行政區特派員公署 on Monday, 20 March 2017
“That’s why we exist,” it added – in English.
Some also mocked the page rendering the Cantonese possessive particle geh (嘅) as gaa (噶). “Why don’t you hire a Hongkonger as an editor?” asked one commenter.
Despite receiving fewer than 1,000 likes within a day of its launch, the page has received hundreds of comments, mostly in protest. Some commenters called on Beijing to cease its rumoured support for chief executive candidate Carrie Lam, or to prosecute incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying and his alleged Chinese government backers.
Others told the ministry to “go back to Weibo,” given that Facebook is blocked in the mainland.
“Rescind the decision of the National People’s Congress, implement democratic universal suffrage, the Chinese Communist Party must stop its oppression!” wrote student leader Joshua Wong.
Posted by Joshua Wong on Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Other Facebook users were more welcoming: “Please diligently observe public opinion in Hong Kong, and truthfully report it to the Central Government, thank you.”
It is not the first time the Chinese government has set up an official page on Facebook.
In September 2015, the government set up a Facebook page for President Xi Jinping to coincide with his visit to the United States. The page – named “Xi’s Visit” – has documented his activities in English ever since.