Hong Kongers are known to have a good sense of humor. And with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong for the 20th anniversary of the territory’s handover, locals have been laughing off the tense political environment. There’s been no shortage of memes surrounding Xi’s trip.
Given the anti-Chinese sentiment surrounding the handover anniversary, the police department is welcoming Xi Jinping’s first visit to Hong Kong as Chinese president with about 11,000 on-duty police officers and seemingly endless large barricades.
A pro-democracy Facebook group compared the line of barricades with the Great Wall, saying ancient emperor Qin Shi Huang had built the Great Wall to block foreign enemies and today “emperor Xi” is using the barriers to block his people’s voices.
A popular local newspaper comic artist Zunzi (尊子) also used the barriers as fodder in a comic for the Hong Kong newspapers Ming Pao and Apple Daily. But instead of shielding the people from Xi, he depicted the barriers as a cage confining Xi, with a sign: “Danger: Xi Jinping inside.”
A photo of Xi waiting for outgoing chief executive CY Leung at a hotel went viral when it hit the wires for its unusual framing with him in the center under a light and his crew in the sidelines. People on the internet couldn’t help but pick up a movie villain-like vibe.
Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan, did her publicity tour by visiting a local kindergarten where she was pictured kissing a child. But a closer look at the photo had people suggesting the school children in the background would rather not be embraced so warmly by her.
CY Leung isn’t off the hook either. Zunzi took aim at the unpopular politician in a comic, showing Xi holding a rod with a Chinese activist dangling from it, and Leung on the floor. The title of the comic makes reference to China’s plan to establish a new Silk Road infrastructure and trade network called One Belt, One Road (OBOR). With a pun off “belt,” which in Chinese also means to lead—Zunzi depicts Xi leading the way, with his lackeys following.
Internet users also commented on the dress CY Leung’s wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, wore for a formal dinner with Xi, mocking her outfit for resembling a night gown or perhaps even traditional Chinese clothes worn by the dead.
Chinese state media Xinhua News created a rap video featuring both Mandarin and Cantonese lyrics to educate viewers on Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” framework and how wonderful Hong Kong has become after the handover.
Of course, this invited mockery from the internet.
Local new media company Initium created its own parody video to mock Xinhua’s called “20 years of Hong Kong ‘rubbish youth’” (香港廢青20年). “Rubbish youth” is a self-deprecating term used by Hong Kong youth to refer to how unproductive and hopeless they are.
“We just realized that we have a Cantonese song too,” the company said in its Facebook post. “It is about the 20 years of [what has] changed and unchanged in our local ‘rubbish youth.'”
Jokes aside, Hong Kongers actually take the coming of 2047—when the “one country, two systems” framework is set to expire—very seriously. Under Article 5 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the existing capitalist system shall remain unchanged for 50 years.
Read Quartz’s complete series on the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover.