Hong Kong TV show does not sit well with Chinese government

Tensions are high between the residents of Hong Kong and the mainland Chinese inhabitants. Those residing on the mainland are being blamed for bad manners, a shortage of slots within schools and a high-value property market that has become increasingly demanding.

In an effort to profit from the controversy, the Chinese media has created a television show highlighting real anxieties that citizens face, all while exposing the vast wealth disparities in China.

The television program “Inbound Troubles” tells the story of two cousins, one from Hong Kong and the other from the mainland. The plot is used to describe an impoverished city’s reliance on the business of wealthy mainland visitors. In the show, visitors are portrayed as lavish consumers and are depicted as caring only about themselves.

“While residents in Hong Kong welcome a large number of fat-cat mainlanders who spend money to promote the economy in Hong Kong, their lavish spending pushes the prices higher and even causes the shortage of products in the market,” said George Guo, professor of political science. An example of product shortage cited by Guo is the sale of baby formula within the region.

In “Inbound Troubles,” the cousin from mainland China is seen littering, running red lights and being disrespectful of societal norms. In contrast, the relative from Hong Kong makes his living working with a travel agency, encouraging new tourists from the mainland to spend more of their cash within the city.

The show and its trailers have sparked complaints from viewers, many of whom expressed anger at its portrayals of mainlanders and its insinuation that the Hong Kong tourism industry is somewhat predatory.

“I have a few bad experiences with mainlanders — most of them have to do with them jumping queues or being rude,” said student Tai Wing-yi to The New York Times.

“But not all are like that,” continued Wing-yi. “Some of my classmates are from the mainland, and they are nice to be around, and they work hard. In fact, they are the ones who contribute more than the locals in group projects.”

Chinese officials have now censored the trailers promoting the program on the mainland. The footage does not contain all of the content that viewers see on China’s Television Broadcasts Limited, overseas channels or through video streaming from the Internet.

The Chinese government specifically deleted a scene from the show depicting a protest outside of a Hong Kong clothing store. They also omitted a scene based on a demonstration protesting a Dolce & Gabbana store because it portrayed retaliation by Chinese citizens.

“With China’s outstanding performance in the economy, China is able to exert a great influence on Hong Kong, both politically and economically,” Guo said. “To a certain extent, Hong Kong’s prosperity relies greatly on the economic development of China. As a special administrative region of China since 1997, however, Hong Kong has been suffering an identity crisis due to different outlook on values, freedom, political system, governance and the rule of law.”

The controversial show’s popularity has already led to the possible production of a major motion picture of the same vein. Widespread public attention raises important questions in Chinese culture and incites critique of the wealth disparities within the country.

“I find it interesting that we, as people, are applying different ways of addressing both social and economic issues around us,” said Senior Phil Hong. “That being said, I don’t know how effective this form (“Inbound Troubles”) of displaying issues is. Hopefully it will open doors towards more changes in Mainland China.”

Television shows like “Inbound Troubles” shine a light on the socioeconomic status of urban and rural residents and, in turn, may influence social change in China. However, if the government continues to censor these television shows and other means of Chinese media, China may also become more cognizant of the government control exerted over them.