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Rachel Lu

Coverage of Hong Kong Ferry Disaster Raises Thorny Questions of City’s Identity

Last night’s disastrous ferry collision near one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, which took at least 38 lives, is now one of the top trending topics on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter. While most netizens mourned for the victims or lamented the unpredictability of human events, a side controversy has developed over the coverage of the tragedy by China News Service (CNS), a state-owned news agency.

Reporter of Hong Kong Economic Times Willy Lo (@williamontheway) tweeted,

“Serious dishonest reporting by CNS–After the Hong Kong ferry disaster, Chief Executive CY Leung stated in the press conference that ‘The rescue boats from mainland came to the scene and stayed on standby because Hong Kong’s own search and rescue efforts were sufficient, and the mainland boat left without providing assistance.’ However, CNS reports, ‘At the scene of the ferry crash, professional boats from China successfully rescued 95 people.” {{1}}[[1]]香港海難,行政長官梁振英在記者會中表示,「內地救援船隻來港只是待命,因本港的搜救力量已足夠,故內地船最終未有提供協助便離去」。但中新社報道(http://t.cn/zlMYxh8)「中國專業船舶在香港撞船事故現場,成功救起95人」。[[1]]

Lo’s tweet was echoed by other journalists who also questioned CNS’s report. Yang Jingling (@杨锦麟), the executive director of Hong Kong Satellite TV, tweeted in response, “The CNS reporter clearly did not conduct any verification or investigation at the scene! No basic professionalism.” {{2}}[[2]]記者很顯然沒到現場沒做任何核實査證!基本功法不具備![[2]] Others, however, did not see anything wrong with CNS’ language. @魔法土兔 asked, “Aren’t Hong Kong rescue boats also Chinese rescue boats?” {{3}}[[3]]香港救助船难道不是中国的救助船?[[3]]

In the face of growing controversy, Lo clarified that he believed that “Hong Kong boats are not Chinese boats,” because Hong Kong can register its boats under “Chinese Hong Kong” according the Basic Law, the constitutional document of Hong Kong as a special administrative region of China, “just as Hong Kong athletes uses ‘Chinese Hong Kong’ to compete in the Olympic Games and not a part of ‘Team China.’”  {{4}}[[4]]根據基本法第125條「香港特別行政區經中央人民政府授權繼續進行船舶登記,並根據香港特別行政區的法律以『中國香港』的名義頒發有關證件」。因此香港船不屬於中國船,正如香港運動員參加奧運要使用「中國香港」,而非加入「中國隊」。中新社偷換概念指「中國專業救助船舶成功救起95人」,應撤回報道。[[4]]

Lo’s clarification, however, did not help the matter. @崔_歪y asked, “Is it a bad thing that Guangdong province rushed to send rescue boats? Can you think in terms of humanitarianism and not get everything mixed up with politics? {{5}}[[5]]广东抢住救援都是坏事?能否往人道主义方面想,不要什么都往政治说[[5]] @西伯利亚总督king opined, “Worrying about stuff like this every day? Don’t you have anything better to do? No wonder Hong Kong is losing its competitiveness and lagging further behind Singapore! {{6}}[[6]]一天到晚纠结这些问题,真是闲的蛋疼!怪不得香港越来越缺乏竞争力,被新加坡越来越拉开距离了! [[6]] 

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.