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Cryptic, allusive messages from Hong Kong's wealthiest tycoon (upenn.edu)
395 points by fraqed 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

Conclusion: Chinese is absolutely the best language-family to make cryptic, gnomic, multi-layered allusions and sound like you've lived 100,000 years up a mountain eating nothing but fresh mountain air and magical peaches.

Obviously very unsophisticated compared to Chinese, but here is a similar vehicle by Kubernator Schwarzenegger to the CA State assembly: https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_336319

That's pretty great

It sounds like you're summed up VB and COBOL as well.

If you speak Chinese, you'll find it's very easy to squeeze sentences in exact same characters. Almost all poems in China (except very modern ones) do this.

It's so easy that people in forums do this a along - being sarcastic or just funny. You could have positive meaning literally, but hide dirty words in structures.

Also because it's so easy that this was defined as serious crime in many dynasties. There were even people committed it by coincidence were sentenced to death.

> committed it by coincidence were sentenced to death

So they sentenced themselves to death with an unfortunate sentence structure.

I believe the correct joke is simply:

So they sentenced themselves to death.

Probably, I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, particularly when explaining or otherwise talking to others, which can really wreck jokes...

Talk about a death sentence

They literally did.

That's a good one. My English is not sufficient to come up with this. There's also a Chinese pun story[0] with 92 characters with the same sound but different tone.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion-Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_...

...the sentenced sentenced themselves to a death sentence with an unfortunate sentence structure?

I wonder if sentencing like these still happen today.

As far as I know, no.

If you like Chinese poetry / ancient writing, I'd like to mention wengu:


Text is laid out in the same fashion as OP. Wengu lets you mouseover characters for translation and along with an interpretation:

- Book of Odes: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Shijing&no=1

- Art of War: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Sunzi&s=1

- Book of Changes: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Yijing&no=0

- Tao Te Ching: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Daodejing&no=0

- Analects of Confucius: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Lunyu&no=1

Li Ka-shing is well aware. His job ad for a Chinese PA was featured in the news for its salary (HK$1Mpa) and very high requirements (expert level in modern and classical Chinese and Chinese history, 20+ years experience).


That's about $125k USD. Which is high probably for a PA in general but probably seem unsurprising for PAs for billionaires.

Hong Kong, not USA. It's a good salary for HK.

PA = ?

Personal Assistant

Loads very slowly for me. archive.org mirror: https://web.archive.org/web/20190822110138/https://languagel...

The impasse Hong Kong finds itself must be solved by the Chief Executive. Her leadership in this matter is severely lacking and one wonders if the has any autonomous power at all, or if its all controlled by Beijing. Especially seeing how she evaded that question quite gracelessly a few days ago when asked by a reporter.

The widespread rumor among the foreign Hong Kong press corps is that Lam has tried several times to resign, and not been permitted to do so.

If true, what a nasty position to be in.

Unwanted and unhappy, but can't leave. I wonder if this might make some otherwise "approved candidates" think twice.

She should call Theresa May for tips how to cope.

If so, then where can her career go from here?

Go completely CCP authoritarian will kill any trust of her by HK citizens, and could she advance anywhere in the mainland party?

Go to the HK side may regain trust but kill all CCP future.

Neither, the current state, will ensure that nobody is happy.

Seems like no possible exit plan? Could CCP push her hard enough that she must exit by taking her own life? If so, would that be a sufficient potential embarrassment for CCP to prevent them from doing so?

I don’t think anybody seriously thinks Hong Kong has any meaningful level of autonomy. The impasse is that Hong Kongers want freedom and democracy, and China wants Hong Kong to be China. I can’t see what the Chief Executive could possibly do. Either the protestors will give up, or stage a revolution, which seems unlikely for a population armed with umbrellas.

> I can’t see what the Chief Executive could possibly do

Your assumption that HK doesn't have any autonomy might have something to do with that ;)

As to what she could do: she can do a lot; the protestors have a list of 5 demands, one of them is the withdrawal of the extradition-bill. She could comply with that, for example.

But it seems quite obvious that she actually does not have the power to do that. She doesn’t even have the power to resign, she tried and China said no.

Their demands also include permanent legislative independence from China. Something they obviously don’t have today, and will have less and less as China continues it’s stated policy of continuing the complete integration of Hong Kong into China.

Any level of autonomy Hong Kong has is granted entirely at the discretion of China, and is only temporary in any case, as it has an expiry date. It’s exceedingly obvious to any observer that Hong Kong does not currently have sufficient autonomy to satisfy the protestors demands.

Which she has declared to have been withdrawn.

No, it has been suspended. Withdrawn is a separate state. If the government in the future want implement this again, it is a lot less effort to continue a suspended bill rather than a withdraw. The difference is that with a withdrawn bill the legislative process needs to start from zero while a suspended can just be "unsuspended".

She declared it "dead" which is not a legal term.

Yes, but politicians speaking to the press often speak in a non-formal manner. At any rate the bill appears not to be under active consideration at present.

Doesn't matter; the government can still resume the second reading with only a few days notice and then rush through the bill within 24 hours, unless it is formally withdrawn.

Has not been formally withdrawn.

I don't really understand this comment. Hong Kong enjoys considerable autonomy, the threatened loss of which is the reason for the current protests. This very real autonomy is the reason it continues to be a thriving financial center.

Really illustrates the importance of our own second amendment.

Not really. Civil disobedience is the only historically effective way to defeat a modern state.

With open warfare, the historical playbook for putting down this sort of thing is clear. Roll in the tanks, and infantry from Mongolia or whatever. Sometimes the revolt get put down immediately, sometimes you end up with guerrilla warfare.

> the only historically effective ... modern state

What a contorted argument. I assume that the British empire wasn’t a modern state, and that history is less than one century long (and full of holes).

History is more than a century long, but a modern state by military standards has been a thing since around the time of the civil war when rifles replaced muskets and industrialization became a thing. That's the point where unlike in the Napoleonic era, you can't win decisive victory on the battlefield, things depend on political will, manpower and economic function.

Using your example of the British Empire, India didn't win independence through combat, civil disobedience made it politically untenable for the British to continue. That had far-ranging effects on what was left of the colonies.

One of the arguments core to an advocate of the 2nd amendment with respect to this issue is that a citizen militia, equipped with small arms, would be capable of deterring a government from taking some action. It's an increasingly absurd position.

I think you have an absurd understanding of history if you believe all of this decolonisation happened nonviolently. Almost every independence movement relied on the threat of violence. You are using the civil war itself as the starting point, a brutally violent regime change. Ireland gained its independence from Britain in no insignificant way thanks to violent means. Most African nations gained their independence through violence. And even India was not just freed through a barefoot bespectacled man walking around singing kumbaya. Simplifying it to mere acts of civil disobedience is grossly misrepresenting how complex the situation was.

It's inevitable that we will end up in Hitler, continue boys :)

> Civil disobedience is the only historically effective way to defeat a modern state

No. Ordinary civil disobedience will do utterly nothing. You need a certain amount of violence - just look at France, only after the riots were utterly massive the government caved. The alternative is a massive general strike, which has fallen out of favor in modern times as many jobs are easily replaceable and people are afraid of getting fired.

There will be nothing like guerilla warfare in Hong Kong though. Literally no one has any military experience there, and nobody owns a weapon either. It's just not Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Chinese PLA certainly doesn't suffer from any manpower shortages to contain the situation when they eventually want to.

> There will be nothing like guerilla warfare in Hong Kong though. Literally no one has any military experience there, and nobody owns a weapon either.

You don't need guns. Making car bombs and IEDs requires only determination and some practice. PLA as any modern army is poorly equiped to combat urban guerilla. Such a dense maze like Hong-Kong had never been experienced by any army.

Loss of face for China would be collosal if any sort of prolonged and effective resistance happend after intervention.

But I hope it won't be necessary.

The people in HK have no training in any form of warfare, guerilla or not. They're just not mentally nor physically equipped to conduct any sort of warfare, especially against a superior power like China.

I doubt China ultimately cares about loss of face.

> The people in HK have no training in any form of warfare, guerilla or not.

In a population of 8 milion you will find more then enough smart, determined, intelligent people who can learn quickly enough and innovate.

The only thing that China is afraid of is the loss of face :-)

The way our country (USA) solidifies its dominance in a country like Iraq or the nations of Latin America is mass assassinations of intelligentsia blamed on unknown terrorists or death squads.

China's style in Xinjiang is more bottom up and comprehensive with internment camps and mass surveillance.

You could say our style reflects our individualistic understanding of society while China's style represents a more Marxist collectivist view.

Oh really? How did that work out the last go around: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Tiananmen_Square_protests

I think the other 26 amendments + constitution probably have more to do individually, and absolutely do as a collective, with the freedoms of our society. I don't know if you've seen an obese person with a peashooter go up against an apache helicopter, for instance, but I don't think the state has had to worry about who can deploy more force in over a century.

Every modern conflict has pretty clearly demonstrated that military might is not nearly enough to control a country.

You're being dismissive. We're leaving Afghanistan because some skinny guys in robes with little more than AK's successfully stood up to the most powerful military that ever marched, for going on 18 years now.

It happened in Iraq too, and Vietnam.

These are all examples of a foreign power fighting a war, not an internal conflict which is mediated by internal violence. Winning a war by not losing is a completely orthogonal endeavor to getting what you want internally. How’d it work out for Syria?

You mean the first amendment right? The US military machine would decimate any civilians wielding weapons if they were so inclined. They wouldn't even have to use troops, they could do so with drones.

Why has the US military machine failed to wipe out a few thousand foreign insurgents (generally less well equipped than American civilians) using drones then? Why did many of my peers, troops, die?

I have severe doubts that the US could contain a civil uprising scenario, especially given international pressures. About 42% of Americans *live in a household with guns according to Gallup, with approximately 30% owning them. If even 10% of those people decided to revolt, that would be approximately 9 million people.

I'd wager that's vastly more than the insurgent military forces we've lost to in the past few conflicts we've had.

To add context here, I responded to someone who said the current Hong Kong situation illustrates the importance of the second amendment. Which I think truly was a myopic, insipid comment. As far as your contention that they haven't wiped out a few thousand foreign insurgents, are you referring to Iraq or Afghanistan? Afghanistan is an interesting case, I truly don't understand what the current goal is.

I would add that the US monitors its civilians with multiple agencies, including Homeland Security and the NSA, and I would think it'd be easier to do on the domestic side than have to contend with foreign governments and the distances involved in operating overseas.

I'm not sure about the Gallup poll you're referring to, but the Pew Research poll I stumbled upon has 30% of Americans owning a firearm with an additional 11 to 12% living in a household with someone who owns a firearm. I don't really agree that means 42% of Americans own firearms. In fact, the ratio of households that own a gun has been going down for decades (You can see this here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/despite-mass-shootings-number-o...). The issue is there are fewer and fewer people owning guns, but those people own far more guns than they did previously. Which is where the extremism and mass shootings come in (along with our current social and political structure). Here's a quotation from the article I linked above:

>They found that those who own guns own an average of 4.8 firearms. But they also found that half of all guns — 130 million guns — are owned by 14 percent of gun owners or 7.6 million people. That's 3 percent of the U.S. population.

The international pressure angle is interesting and not something I've really thought a lot about. Incidentally, the current administration doesn't seem to care what international governments think.

I do agree that comparing the US culture of gun ownership + the second amendment (which, although may have been written as though to apply to all people regardless of national identity... doesn't) to the situation going on in Hong Kong is incredibly shortsighted and demonstrates a lack of understanding in cultural differences.

My point on the "few thousand insurgents" is more specifically referring to Afghanistan, but I think both apply similarly: that the US has been unable to contain and combat relatively small insurgency movements via direct action, be that boots on the ground or through mechanized warfare. I think if a similar insurgency happened here in America, if say a percent or even less than a percent of Americans engaged in sympathetic action, that it would be nigh impossible to contain given our military's past performance against similar combatants, not even taking into account the nuances of fighting one's own citizenship and the likelihood of disobedience among the state.

Arguments that a scenario could be contained at local, civic levels are valid, but a full-scale conflict between citizens and military would be catastrophic not only for the population but for the administration as well (who wants to blow up all the infrastructure they've built?). The state has a vested interest in not provoking this scenario, which is why I imply the second amendment is important and alive in the US even today although the tides have changed.

In regards to HK, a previous comment above mentioned they have a much more comprehensive "bottom-up" structure of monitoring and enforcing compliance with their citizens. Even if they had a theoretical second amendment, they can still initiate a massive crackdown and have the infrastructure to contain and control their citizenship. Which is frankly terrifying, of course, but the solution isn't necessarily just "give the citizens guns", nor would this ever work on a cultural level.

China does actually have the resources and is in a position to contain civic revolt in nearly all cases, from my point of view. This is vastly different to America, and can't really be easily compared.

You don't need to win to deter, just need to mak it not worthwhile for your adversary. Second amendment works fine asa counter value capability.

> To add context here, I responded to someone who said the current Hong Kong situation illustrates the importance of the second amendment. Which I think truly was a myopic, insipid comment.

The protestors themselves may disagree with that. There’s plenty of photos of protestors holding signs that make exactly that comment. Their oppressor in this case also actually has a history of massacring unarmed civilians.

Regarding the might of the US or Chinese military, I can’t think of an example of a military winning against an insurgency.

> You mean the first amendment right? The US military machine would decimate any civilians wielding weapons if they were so inclined. They wouldn't even have to use troops, they could do so with drones.

If this was the truth why is the US military still engaged in Afghanistan? Is it possible that war is more nuanced if you don't carpet bomb locations off the map?

yes, who could imagine a group of civilians with small arms defeating the US military

Not really, say Texas wanted to declare independence. How long would a Texan militia last against the US military? Modern empires can't be resisted period. It's just a question of whether you want to destroy yourself to keep them from ruling you. In that case they still can't be resisted but at least you deny them their victory. You either belong to one empire or another. The only way for Hong Kong to resist would have been if they never unified with China and joined as a territory of the US or Europe or something when Britain was done with them.

Americans and the US like to perpetuate the freedom myth, but it's mostly bullshit used to destroy countries in the name of liberating them to benefit the US financially or strategically. The reality is much more stark.

Consider if you will how well we fared in Korea, Vietnam, and in the Middle East against farmers and normal folks. As a Texan myself, I'd like to point out that a large percentage of the United States military happens to originate from or was stationed in our great state. I happen to think we would fare quite well in your hypothetical scenario..

With Korea, the US basically conquered half of it and made it kind of territory or vassal. Vietnam would be the only victory for the belligerent. The Middle East with US intervention is pretty much destroyed, where Iraq is more or less a vassal state and Afghanistan is still out of control but more or less destroyed, and Syria is burning. In foreign cases the invading army will eventually leave the country if you can make victory for them too difficult politically or militarily, not so if the army is domestic.

I'm not a student of military history but these all seem disparate examples that don't support the point that you're trying to make. Are you trying to say something about the nature of the US Military's (in)ability to hold territory or making a point about foreign occupations?

Iraq is hardly a US vassal state any more. At this point Iran probably has as much or more influence.

In your wording "faring quite well" logically would involve between two and five decades of unending guerilla warfare. Doesn't sound like a great way to live if you're not a gun nut

Lasting 2 to 5 decades is pretty much in agreement with the parent though. Not easy for the US military at all.

> Consider if you will how well we fared in Korea, Vietnam, and in the Middle East against farmers and normal folks.

We crushed them (and the regular DPRK army) utterly and completely in Vietnam and Korea, but then forces that weren't “farmers and normal folk” (or even the DPRK military) got on the field (Chinese Army as we showed signs that we would roll the DPRK up completely and potentially—the concern on their side went—keep going into Communist China in Korea, the NVA in Vietnam.)

Korea and Vietnam were decades ago, the United States annihilated Iraq. Surprised you didn't mention Afghanistan. Modern technology would make any potential secession in the United States almost impossible. You are also applying American culture to Hong Kong. If Hong Kong residents violently opposed the Chinese government with weapons, they would be systematically destroyed. The Chinese government has done that before and has shown no compunction in destroying people based on what's happening with the Uyghurs.

How long would a Texan militia last against the US military?

Depends, are there any nuclear or biological assets deployed in Texas?

You really seem to like the idea of nuking folks.. You okay buddy?

Just a Gedankenexperiment, you know, take an idea to its logical conclusion.

Discussion of practicality aside, thinking "$bad_thing can't happen here because of $blank" is base exceptionalism that only results in creating a blind spot for yourself.

A population armed with guns can no more stand up to a modern police force or army than one without firearms. People in Iraq and Yemen were heavily armed.

Which does illustrate the importance of the idea of the second amendment, but also it's failure in implementation:

The second amendment does not exist to arm the citizenry against the police/army, it exists to provide a militia of citizens so that government will not (because the citizenry will be both capable and, being politically empowered, will not stand for the alternative) resort to permanent professional police and armies for security.

But it turns out the citizenry, armed or not, like the government applying violence, and don't want to be bothered to be on the pointy end, so even with the second amendment we have abandoned reliance on the citizen militia in favor of professional security services, along with a weird civic cult of worship of those services.

Minor point: not everyone is American. Some countries are democratic without the need to bear arms.

All of them much smaller and/or less demographically diverse.


Nobody messes with nuclear powers - how about a right to bear tactical nukes?

This has been my thought too. China is allowing these protests to go on. At any point, they can roll in the tanks, and they will be over.

Without meaningful ways to defend themselves, there really is no way to win against the Chinese government.

Public armed with personal arms would change nothing when tanks roll in.

Power of public is in numbers. Revolutions happen when everybody including soldiers become the protesters.

Unfortunately in this media age thats going to be harder and harder.

Udik 3 months ago [flagged]

I hope you're being sarcastic. Partly because the idea of civilians using guns bought at the supermarket to oppose the Chinese army is hilarious; partly because the idea that you need guns to get freedom, is general, even more laughable. Sorry.

I feel sorry for you. You don't truly understand how you have the freedom for instance..To speak your mind here on HN.

Very few governments will just give away freedom and power. It needs to be take back by force.

If the HK citizens had access to weapons this entire time, the Chinese government would think twice before invading. Unfortunately, it's too late for that.

This is why the second amendment is so important in the US.

Is the creation of the United States laughable? What was used in order to gain that freedom from Britain? Firearms maybe?

The last time some of the US states tried to secede from the rest of the union and gain their "freedom" (they were of course heavily armed) they were attacked and crushed in a war that lasted 4 years and caused almost a million deaths. So in that case the weapons didn't work. Or did they?

Sometimes armed rebellion has good outcomes, sometimes (probably more often) it has horribly tragic ones. Prolonged political pressure and alliances, non-violent protest, can give equally good results without the risk of creating bloodsheds like the US secession war or the current Syrian civil war (that as horrendous as it is, has yet to claim as many victims as the US secession war).

This is a very privileged and perhaps even ignorant view to take. Not everybody has the luxury of waiting for a peaceful revolution to happen.

> This is a very privileged and perhaps even ignorant view to take.

I'll spare myself the obvious retort. Not everyone has the privilege of starting an armed revolution and succeed, or simply survive. Not everyone who does is guaranteed to be in the right (for example the US states that tried to secede). And the outcome can be complete destruction for yourself, for your city and your region, and hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced and homeless- many of whom couldn't care less about your "revolution".

Do I condemn armed resistance? No. Of course not, sometimes it is inevitable. But the idea that you should distribute firearms to people just in case somebody one day decides he's fed up and wants to start shooting other people for freedom, or for white supremacy, or- why not- for a religious caliphate- that is ridiculous.

We're there tanks back then?

>We're there tanks back then?

No, we're here taking potshots at each other on the Internet.


Not sure you’re using the right definition of tyranny

How do you defend yourself against the Chinese army with just handguns and rifles? You can post the answer here, or better yet, sell it to Taiwan confidentially for billions of dollars.

Ask the Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese had room to maneuver and hide and had the support of the locals. In addition you overestimate how little the Chinese government gives a shit about the average citizen. In such an engagement there will be no "hearts and minds" war. If they decide to go the military route they will flood HK and massacre anybody who gives off the slightest whiff of sedition.

Personally I think they'll just continue arresting and making people disappear to the mainland so there is nothing damaging on the news.

I'm glad that you asked. We had a long history with our big "brother" China. But I don't think this is relevant because at the end of the day, Hong Kong and Taiwan are still Chinese.

For a more recent example ISIS was crushed.

The Vietnamese had massive foreign support. China is unlikely to give up so easily, and no country is going to want to keep arming such a resistance.

Just to be clear, in the most recent conflict between Vietnam and China, we had very limit foreign support, even the support from the Soviet.

In all fairness the Vietnamese had among the most battle-trained armies of the time, with massive manpower, enough of weaponry and extreme determination. Plus a difficult terrain. Equipment-wise they had infantry weapons, artillery, air force, aerial defense...

HK has maybe a difficult terrain?

Also state's rights, that's basically what they're fighting for.

That appears to be an incredibly classy thing to do, at no small risk to himself.

The billionaires have the most to lose with any social unrest, and he exposed himself to support the masses.

If so: Respect

Counter-possibility: it's a CYA maneuver, which supports both sides simlutaneously and either message can be declared as "intended" post-hoc.

Agreed he has put himself in more "danger" by this action, but billionaires like him certainly do not have the most to loose.

He will have investments, properties, friends or family outside HK. He can simply pay his way to citizenship in most countries around the world.

The average HK citizen has everything to lose, their rights and way of life. He will loose some money and property at the most, depending on how he decides to play it.

I think both you and the parent comment are correct.

A billionaire has the greatest potential for relative change from the consequences of their actions. They have more chips they can put on the table and thus they can experience a change in fortune larger than others.

At the same time, the poor have the greatest potential for suffering. With fewer chips to put on the table, they are much closer to getting kicked out of the game entirely.

If you think that's classy, rumours are saying Rupert Hogg, the former Cathay CEO chose to give his own name and step down when China demanded he give up the names of staff who protested.


Can someone who knows HK weigh in on how likely this is to be subtle deliberate messaging, or whether it’s like Qanon (where “Q” just says vague things, and the followers go wild with all sorts of interpretations that confirm what they already think).

It's blindingly obvious that it's deliberate. Whether it's the graphic designer or LKS that actually formulated it, that is debatable. I wouldn't bet on the former though.

Keep in mind that Li fell out with Beijing and have cashed out most of his assets in the Mainland over the last several years.

There is no way that the following phrase, formed by the the end characters of each phrase in the ad, could be a coincidence.

因果由國 容港治己 義憤民誠

The only slightly questionable word choice is 由, but as the phrases are supposed to be read as stanzas in a poem, I think liberties can be taken in composition.

This is really a classy move.

It's like a compact puzzle or "steganographic joke" - intelligent, elegant, satirical and even humorous in a way.

Constructing these interlocking phrases, one "public" and the other a "private" message for those "in the know"; getting the right number of characters and dots; even using his own name as part of the message.

I don't know anything about this billionaire, but I appreciate the effort that went into this form of protest, it's a work of art.

As a HKer, I think it is likely to be deliberate.

A lot of big corporations/wealthy people had ads on HK newspaper front page explicitly condemning the protesters. Li Ka Shing could have done the same but he didn't.

The second part seems pretty direct.

The discussion being entirely banned on Weibo also implies that it's deliberate.

Try searching "李嘉诚发声" and you'll get a message saying "According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, this page is not found"

Don't they just block anything that even barely mentions HK independence?

Actually, HK independence is deliberately mentioned a lot in Weibo.

They want to paint the protesters as pro-HK independence but in fact this is not one of our five demands.

And of course they block all the stuffs that make the HK gov and police look bad.

> The discussion being entirely banned on Weibo

I have also noticed sharing videos WeChat seems to be on whitelist mode 2 nights ago.

Speculation is that there were heavy traffic for sharing globally resulting in all videos on WeChat were temporarily shadow banned until individually approved.

Didn't they block Winnie the Pooh images because it had come to represent Xi Jinping? Those images maybe weren't deliberately provocative when produced as a children's cartoon, but the context made them so. Sane thing could happen here?

To the Chinese native speakers here on HN: how clear would the message have been to you, if you didn’t read the explanation on this website?

I have to admit it's not obvious to me at first. Especially for the second ad, you need to have good knowledge of Chinese literature to know the story behind the poem.

But once I read the explanation it became quite clear since there isn't really other ways to interpret it.

It's not clear because people don't read like that (jumping for different directions), that's the intention. But once other people pointed out it became very obvious, and could almost be judged as they intended to do that.

It could be a common way to trick the initial sensor from the publisher. Because most editors wouldn't notice that. But it won't hide from the mass. Once it's get published it would piss someone off.

I didn't notice that when I first read it. However, mainland Chinese can get the message easier because they always use this way to avoid the "big brother". Not only politics, Chinese government enforces heavy control on the speech.

Definitely not obvious if not pointed out like this to me, but the words generally spread fast once somebody points it out which the chance is almost 100%.

To be fair, I knew HongKong and GuangZhou area are still very traditional, rooted with a lot of these ancient Chinese language games. People there might be much more conscientious looking for word games than I do.

I knew the message "因果由國 容港治己" as it is now well known and well used slogan during the protest, so I picked it up quite easily knowing that there's a cryptic message in there.

Also, this slogan is often interpreted as protestor declaration for wanting HK independence.

The analysis is actually incomplete. Notice how the last line has a little gap? If we combine the last words of the last two lines we actually get:


The last part reads anger is righteous.

In 2011 he already made comments in support of universal suffrage in Hongkong.

Despite what is said in the media I don't think that this is 'brave' to state this opinion. The key is how to say it and how to behave with respect to China and the government.

> The key is how to say it and how to behave with respect to China and the government.

Can you elaborate why it matters to be respectful to a dictator for life who puts huge numbers of Uighurs in concentration camps?

I'm not especially informed on the topic, but my guess is that your options for facing a totalitarian regime are:

* Outright rebellion: Likely to result in large-scale violence and suffering.

* Persistent gradual resistance: Messages like these may gradually sway the government to accept more progressive ideas, become a more legitimate democracy, and develop to a point where such atrocities don't happen. Doing so with an air of respect may make it more likely for mainland citizens and softer-hearted government officials to take your side.

Obviously it'd be best if those responsible for concentration camps just swiftly and permanently lost all their power. But I don't know how one would make that happen.

with respect to = regarding

It's ironic I interpreted the sentence wrong given the topic of the article.

> The poem is by the dauphin (crown prince), Li Xian (655-684) under Wu Zetian (624-705), the only female emperor in Chinese history.

I've only ever heard the word "dauphin" in the context of a French crown prince (starting with Charles V, when Philip VI gave him the Dauphiné region to rule while he was still the heir). Is the term used more universally?

I’ve heard it in at least one other context: to mean “inheritor” or anointed successor. Here is a quote from Gore Vidal:

‘I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delfino. I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens.'


I’ve seen other examples in this style. Maybe folks in comments can point out more.

It's generically used as a French term for 'heir apparent'

> “everyone knows what 4 / 6 /89 signifies”

This annoyed me quite a bit. No I don’t. Most people probably don’t.

It’s the date of Tiananmen Square.

That's like getting annoyed when people refer to 9/11.

Eh no. Let me also be clear I say this and cannot remember the date of Pearl Harbor, Cherynobl, or a number of other major events.

9/11 is a bit of a weird case in that the name of the event is also the event itself... that usually does not happen.

Please label your dates folks (except 9/11 I guess...)

"Tiananmen Square" is the English name for the event. The name in Chinese is the "June 4th Incident", much like 9/11 in English.

Since the blog is in English, a "translation" might have been helpful; but since he goes so much into Mandarin, perhaps he assumes his readers are already familiar with the Chinese name.

That's just US-centric. For example, you probably don't know off the bat what happened on 22.06.41 either, but if someone buys an ad in a Russian newspaper encoding these figures, it would be perfectly reasonable to say "everyone knows".

"9/11" is not generally referred to as such outside the US, and would more usually be described as the September 11th Attacks. Also a date, but less numerical.

I'd prefer September the 11th. I can never tell from dates if the day isn't over 12 whether it's in american or everywhere else date format.

I remember the Fourth of July! And New Year's Day, and Cinco de Mayo. Not so weird?

I don't usually remember Cinco de Mayo :>

But you remember when it is?

And who's buried in Grant's Tomb?

Grant who?

December 7th 1941 a date which will live in infamy.

What happened on the 9th November?

As the song goes: "Remember remember the fith of November", but I don't remember the 9th.

...supposedly universal cultural references are hard :-)

In Germany, quite a few notable, good and bad, things happened on the 9th of November.

Only when you're clearly not the target audience.

That was the morning we found out Trump was elected.

> This annoyed me quite a bit.

Cool. You're on a computer. Look it up. Now you know (probably better than if they had just said it outright).

Why do so many people here choose to fill the comment sections with gripes about minor imperfections in articles, when those imperfections don't take away from the article as a whole? Especially when there's so much else worth discussing here.

Minor complaint about making minor complaints

Would Tiananmen Square not be your first guess for any date remotely close to 1989 though, given the context?

But a guess can be wrong. As somebody from Eastern Europe many other events come to my mind first in relation with 1989.

And why would that be in any way relevant to an article about a Chinese ad targeting other Chinese in China?

Contextually it's more than obvious for anyone even casually familiar with Chinese history which the audience would be.

Or the fall of the berlin wall, depending on context.

For reference, that is 9 November 1989.

Yes, I'm aware, was just pointing out the 'in 1989' part has 2 distinct cultural-landmark events for me

I gave the specific date so people can see the date for both in this thread.

I could place it with only +- 15 years if I’m going to be honest.

The point isn’t that you know; it's that the vast majority of Hong Kong people know.

A Day to Remember: https://vimeo.com/44078865

HKers simply refer to the Tiananmen event as “64” in Cantonese, read separately (six four, not sixty four).

Generally you're right, it's annoying if authors flaunt their brilliance by referring to esoteric knowledge, but you have to take into account the usual audience of that blog - it's language and (particularly Victor Mair's audience) China geeks. They know.


I dunno, my classical Chinese ain't all that, but I think these guys are straining with the hidden message. It is funny though.

I myself am reading quite a bit of meaning into the conspicuous avoidance of the characters "tian", "an", and "men" throughout both ads.

The melon ad is fairly defiant, though, in a classy kind of way. If I were a betting man, I'd take the other side. Preserving absolute rule of law in Hong Kong is as doomed as the Taiwan independence movement. The Chinese anschluss seems unstoppable.

If you read the link you'd see that did reference tiannamen by date via length of column lines.

The complete hidden message is actually a bit longer:


No way that's an accident.

> but I think these guys are straining with the hidden message

In context, it likely isn't straining. If he desired to simply declare an end to violence, he could have done so in a less tortured graphical format.

I hope this all turns out well..

This sentence has only one interpretations.

Chinese is the spoken Lisp.

"From born to die, you will always buy Li Ka-Shing's goods" "If there's God in HongKong, his last name must be Li"

He and other oligarchs raise prices and exploit profits from people. HK Gov tried several times to press down house prices (build public rental apartments provided by gov, called 新界东北发展计划 ), all failed. What's the funniest part is, HK GOV plan to dismantle the golf courses for building public apartments, and was stopped by the name of environmental protection, House prices keep high, and riches keep their golf courses.

Who will get the most benefit from those riots? Oligarchs, no competitors can enter Hong Kong again. Li himself is the devil's advocate, those oligarchs make young men can only live in cells, but nobody never is able to fight him like they fight CCP now. In this a City with the 0.539 Gini coefficient, why people hate the government on the other side than rich oligarchs? capital owns media.

That, is the true power and true authority, make people fight for you while you consume them.

All those things happened in Hongkong make me feel desperate about this evil world.

I really hate this, no right, no wrong, no justice, no savior, everyone is just puppet of God.

I'd just like to point out to other commenters the context of where this opinion is coming from - that being that this user has a comment history that denies that the Tiananmen Square massacre took place.

This opinion is from a man whose father was one of the procession students that night. I don't think my opinion about HongKong is absolutely right, but I can say I know much clear about what really happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989. And those two things are irrelevant.

>In this a City with the 0.539 Gini coefficient, why people hate the government on the other side than rich oligarchs? capital owns media.

This has perplexed me to no end. The straw that broke the camel's back was an extradition treaty being proposed, and not the crushing living conditions that have been worsening over the past two decades.

Sounds like you are a native. curious why you think this is the case outside of the oligarchs owning media. If that's the case i can't see why the CCP is complaining they lost control of the narrative via the press, if they never had it in the first place.

Yes, I'm from China mainland.

Just like some western opinion that why Chinese people don't fight their government for democracy and free speech, I really can not understand why HK people don't fight oligarchs for goods prices and living house.

Every few years, some protests happen in Hong Kong, None of those protests is aiming to the oligarchs, some people do hate Li, but the most far they can do is ridiculing and complaining.

>If that's the case i can't see why the CCP is complaining they lost control of the narrative via the press, if they never had it in the first place

the CCP attached great importance to propaganda from the beginning (the 1930s). At that time, they do have the advantage of propaganda (compare to the Kuomintang), and now the CCP has lost its ability and skills, the official media of CCP are barely welcome by Chinese, very many young men dislike them. Those years what the CCP propaganda department can do is only to delete and forbidden the contents they dislike, and this usually has the opposite effect - more and more people don't trust them

> Just like some western opinion that why Chinese people don't fight their government for democracy and free speech, I really can not understand why HK people don't fight oligarchs for goods prices and living house.

In some HKer's perspective, they detest how the current administration had been in bed with the oligarchs. In their view, gaining universal suffrage (not only 1 person one vote, but a free nomination) would help with that situation.

This problem is not new - it's an old problem that existed in the colonial state. The definition of a colony is to extract wealth for their masters, so colonial administrations and oligarchs work hand in hand.

Even if one could separate that fight between the administration and the oligarch, there are other structural issues for the administration. HK administration, colonial or SAR, is highly dependent on land leases as its source of income. In it's pursuit of being the "most capitalist city", the tax base is very narrow - income tax is very low, no sales tax, etc... So it is not in HK administration's interest to lower housing prices because that would affect its own budget.

And if one were to temporarily cast aside their own views, and look at the incentive a little, there are other political problems - pro-democrats typically controls the legislature (spare this case of disqualifying a few), but they have no hope of becoming part of the executive council, where the Chief Exec heads, and Beijing has control of the nomination. So there's not a lot of incentive to work well together between the legislature and the executive.

> I really can not understand why HK people don't fight oligarchs for goods prices and living house.

How do you properly fight oligarchs in your country when you don't have control of the government?

Hong Kong has 390,000 migrant domestic workers (maids, nannies) who basically own no property and are paid next to nothing. I imagine they have an outsized impact on the Gini coefficient in a way that doesn't translate to natives.

Hong Kong is consistently ranked as one of the freest societies. Casting HK in a bad light implies more daunting things about the rest of the world.

They're talking about wealth inequality, not freedom. The tension between those two concepts is the undercurrent for the last 150 years of human history.

Everyone would benefit from the protests if successful who cares about their freedom and not having their eyes gauged out my mainland Chinese government henchmen because they insulted Winnie the Pooh.

Whataboutism-style rhetoric can contain valid points, which makes it all the more frustrating. If it didn't, I could just ignore it as propaganda from the ideologically committed. I guess it's just too much to ask for people to bring up their valid points in a way that doesn't intentionally derail conversations on often orthogonal topics.

Also note that if an opinion is almost perfectly correlated with a nationality, that is a reasonable cue to question its rationality.


Why bring any personal confrontation into this discussion?

Anger. Sorry for the negative emotion, and shame for my word-broken, but I just cannot stand him.

Somewhat relevant, this tattoo says "香港" (Hong Kong) or "加油" (Add Oil) when rotated:


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