Barge bilge

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The CCP government is dragging a large barge through Victoria Harbor to celebrate their takeover of Hong Kong and the imposition of the hated National Security Law on the former semi-autonomous region.  On one side:


The huge characters say:

hè guó'ān lìfǎ
"Congratulations on National Security Legislation"

At first I thought it should read:

zhùhè guó'ān lìfǎ
"Congratulations on National Security Legislation"

Part of my reasoning for such a conclusion was that there is clearly space for another banner / character to the left.  Adding the zhù 祝, with three disyllabic terms, makes it sound more vernacular.

On the other side:


qìng Xiānggǎng huíguī 
"celebrate the return of Hong Kong"

Similarly, I thought the saying on this side would sound better if it read:

qìngzhù Xiānggǎng huíguī 
"celebrate the return of Hong Kong"

Upon reflection, however, I was able to get into the spirit of the 1 + 2 +2 cadence and came to appreciate it over a straight 2 + 2 + 2 rhythm.

Selected reading

"Better said in Cantonese" (7/4/20)

[Thanks to Claudia Rosett]


  1. cameron said,

    July 7, 2020 @ 7:56 pm

    Could the absence of that character from both slogans be a subtle message of some kind?

  2. John Swindle said,

    July 7, 2020 @ 10:28 pm

    It imitates some kind of poetic form. Easier to get into the spirit of the couplet than the spirit of the celebration, though. Smacks of what the leader of another country calls toe-tally terry-tism.

  3. John Swindle said,

    July 7, 2020 @ 11:03 pm

    Anyway the first character of the first line and the first character of the second line combine to make a word, 慶賀 qìnghè, 'celebrate'.

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