As the Chinese Year of the Horse approached, the U.S. and British Consul Generals in Hong Kong delighted the citizens with Chinese New Year greeting videos in Cantonese, the language spoken by most Hong Kongers.
In the days leading up to the New Year, which fell on Jan. 31 this year, the two consul generals posted online greeting videos that went viral. Their sense of humor and their respect for local practices and traditional Chinese culture touched the hearts of the Hong Kong people.
“Wishing you all vigorous spirits in the year of the Horse! Kung Hei Fat Choi!” said Caroline Wilson, British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, in her video on Jan. 29. Wilson published this message through Facebook and YouTube, greeting people in Hong Kong and Macau with a traditional New Year greeting in Cantonese.
Kung Hei Fat Choi is roughly translated as “Congratulations and be prosperous!”
Wilson’s video contains typical Chinese New Year traditions. Wearing a festive red suit, she is depicted in the video shopping for end-of-the-year goodies at traditional candy shops and decoration items such as toy horses, scrolls and red packets at Lyndhurst Terrace in Hong Kong’s Central area.
Wilson mingles and takes pictures with shopkeepers, repeating in Cantonese the traditional greeting “Reaching the goal on horseback” and spreading a harmonious and happy atmosphere.
The following day, Clifford A. Hart Jr., Chinese expert and U.S. Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, took his turn. In his video, he leads all the Consulate staff in sending New Year greetings to Hong Kong and Macau people in Cantonese.
“Kung Hei Fat Choi!” Hart says, with pronunciation even more accurate than Caroline Wilson’s.
In this friendly and cordial style, Hart has a chat with a puppet horse, explaining in half a minute what he has done since he took office and the gourmet food he has tasted since then, such as pineapple buns and baked egg puffs. He then demonstrates his skill with chopsticks by picking up a carrot pudding, praising it as a delicious Chinese pastry.
Many netizens left appreciative messages.
“What a creative and lovely video!” one netizen wrote about Hart’s post. “A lot better than the HKgovt ‘s New Year Video.”
“I like the American humor,” wrote another.
Another netizen wrote, “very happy after watching. Please ask which officer at the Chinese Liaison Office ever used Cantonese to greet Hong Kong people?”
“It’s a joke and a really bad joke that Hong Kong government is starting to eliminate Cantonese while the U.S. Consulate is willing to use Cantonese to greet Hong Kong people. Wish all the U.S. Consulate staff a happy new year and you all are really work for the Hong Kong people more than that so called HKSAR government which only work for the PRC Communist party,” wrote Netizen Rance Lau.
Other netizens, unhappy with Hong Kong’s political situation, had requests:
“Please save Hong Kong from evil China.”
“Bring the Army here and liberate HK plz!”
“Please send Navy Seals to arrest our Chief Executive. Thx a lot!”
At the same time, the British Consulate in Beijing used Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, to post their New Year greetings to Chinese people with the sound of the famous London clock Big Ben striking twelve.
Most mainland Chinese netizens praised the Consulate’s British sense of humor. One netizen, however, responded in the tone of the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, referring to the Yuan Ming Yuan garden that the British burned centuries ago: “it is useless to act cute, give me back my garden!”
Translated by Y.K. Lu. Written in English by Sally Appert.