Urine and feces have been a hot topic among Hong Kongers the past week, leading to Chinese netizens calling for a boycott of Hong Kong on June 1.
It all began with a dispute between locals and Chinese mainland tourists over a toddler who reportedly answered the call of nature on a Hong Kong street.
Videos of the clash went viral over the last week, stirring online uproar in both Hong Kong and the mainland, prompting Foreign Policy to brand the incident "bladdergate."
Several video clips capturing the alleged event have spread around the Internet.
In one, seen by CNN, A Hong Konger can be seen yelling "We have called the police," while the enraged father asks, "Do you have kids? Don't your kids need to pee?"
The mother claimed not to know where the toilets were.
Some locals came out in the parents' defense, saying, "Don't scare the kid. It's not a big deal."
The fiasco ends when the police arrive.
The parents were arrested on suspicion of theft and assault, but were not charged.
Under Hong Kong's Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation, no person in care or custody of any child under 12 years of age shall permit, without reasonable cause, such child to answer the call of nature in public places.
The man was released unconditionally while the woman was released on bail and has to report back to the police in mid-May.
The boycott pledge
When news of the clash hit the Internet, many Chinese netizens called out Hong Kongers for their perceived lack of empathy and for filming the urinating toddler.
In honor of World Toilet Day on November 19, designated by the United Nations to raise awareness for 2.5 billion people who do not have access to sanitation and toilets, here's a look at some toilet-themed venues around the world. First up is the two-story toilet-shaped Mr. Toilet House
in Suwon, South Korea. A museum devoted to toilets, it used to be the private home of former congressman and mayor of Suwon, who was known as "Mr. Toilet" for his interest in toilets and sanitation. He founded the World Toilet General Assembly and served as chairman. The museum showcases exhibits on the history of toilets and efforts to fund public bathrooms in underdeveloped countries. Read more: Mr. Toilet House
Hong Kongers countered that it was uncivilized for Chinese parents to let their kids urinate on the street.
One Chinese netizen on a popular Chinese forum, Tianya, pledged to boycott Hong Kong from June 1.
"If us, the mainlanders, stopped traveling to Hong Kong for months, they will come begging us to go back," he said in his declaration.
"We are not entirely sealing off Hong Kong but just to show them we are god as we are the consumers."
Hong Kong has been fighting for a universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017, which has in the past been chosen by a small group of elites and said to be influenced by the Chinese government.
On the other hand, similarly irritated Hong Kong netizens were thrilled at the prospect of a boycott.
"Who cares for your money, you who think shopping is an act of charity," said one commenter on Apple Daily, a local news website.
"Remember to keep your promise and never come to Hong Kong again."
Another said, "It's the first movement both Hong Kong and China support!"
China's National Tourism Administration publicized a 64-page "Guidebook for Civilized Tourism" on its website ahead of the Golden Week public holiday that started on October 1, the same day the country's new tourism law came into effect. Golden Week is one of the most popular times of year for the Chinese to travel. Here, tourists visit a waterfront promenade in Hong Kong.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
The fiasco has escalated to another, smellier level.
The poster asks Chinese tourists to let their children relieve themselves on the streets of Hong Kong during the upcoming Labour Day holiday, which spans a week from May 1.
Hong Kong netizens called for a photography competition on Facebook in response, telling locals to take photos as evidence if toddlers are seen relieving themselves in public places. Sohu, a popular online news outlet and platform in China, even conducted a survey on the incident, asking: "A mainland toddler spotted urinating on the street of Hong Kong was reported to the police. What do you think?"
Out of more than 260,000 responses, about 40% said they consider it a prejudice against mainlanders by Hong Kongers.
Another 40% thought it's understandable that a child would urinate on the street if there's a line of people outside the washroom.
Global Times, a tabloid owned by the state news media People's Daily, quoted academics on the case.
"Some Hong Kong citizens, especially the young, have no cultural identification with the mainland and they have always seen mainlanders as uncivilized people," said Zhu Shihai, a professor from the Central Institute of Socialism, in the Global Times.
Zhu dismissed the incident, saying Hong Kongers were being "overdramatic, in this case."
Zhang Dinghuai, a professor at the Contemporary Chinese Politics Research Institute of Shenzhen University, told the Global Times that people with vicious intentions have deliberately upgraded a simple incident into a conflict.