Guangzhou and Hong Kong, two of southern China’s most prosperous cities, are connected by the Cantonese dialect. On July 25 and August 1, hundreds of Guangzhou and Hong Kong residents took to the streets to join pro-Catonese demonstration.
The catalyst for the protest was a recent proposal made by the local committee in Guangzhou to replace some Cantonese prime time TV shows with Mandarin programs on Guangzhou TV. The move was said to aim at catering visitors from abroad and elsewhere in China who don’t understand Cantonese ahead of the Asian Games to be held in November.
Last Sunday, police were deployed to disperse protesters who gathered Sunday in Guangzhou's People's Park. Two men aged 19 and 25, along with a 42-year-old woman, have been detained on suspicion of disrupting public order, causing affray and sparking traffic jams, police said.
Beijing has promoted Mandarin Chinese, the country's official language for decades to unite a nation with thousands of dialects and numerous minority languages. Cantonese however is the mother tongue for an estimated 70 million people in Hong Kong, Macau and China's southern Guangdong province, and is widely spoken in overseas Chinese communities.
Three detained in China over pro-Cantonese rally [AFP August 3, 2010]
Pro-Cantonese protesters scuffle with China police [Reuters Aug 2, 2010]
Cross-border Protests Aim to Save Cantonese [The Wall Street Journal Blog August 4, 2010]