Hello Kitty

Coming into town is the U.S. naval battle group headed by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk.  Notwithstanding the sabre-rattling talk by Pentagon officials about the threat posed by the Chinese navy, or the joint strategic understanding of the United States and Japan with respect to the Taiwan Strait, business goes on as usual as American navy battleships continue to visit Hong Kong, which is a port of China, just as they have done for many decades.  If you want an indication of American-Chinese tension, this would have been the first place to look at.  So the answer right now is "NO"; it is business as usual here.

What will the Americans do here?

There is the economic analysis -- there are about 10,000 American sailors including 5,300 on Kitty Hawk, and it is estimated that they will spend about HK$40 million during their stay.  That is why they are welcome here.  This is a traditional rest-and-recreational stop, and there are no political overtones.  This is not about armed threats and this is not about imposing democracy and freedom.

That is the general idea.  But you should also read about the democracy/freedom-loving behavior of some specific individuals:

(Sing Tao)

At 2am yesterday morning, two foreign males had a few drinks at Lan Kwai Fong and then flagged a taxi near Wellington Street to return to their hotel.  On the way, the two males got into an argument, and one of them took it out on the taxicab driver by throwing a punch.  Swelling in the left eye, the taxicab driver stopped the car and got out.  There was a police car right there, so he called for assistance.

When the four police officers approached the taxi, the two foreign males fled on foot.  The police gave chase.  One officer caught up to a man, who turned around quickly and punched the officer in the right cheek, causing bleeding in the corner of the eye.  Finally, the two men were cornered near Pacific Place, and there was a massive struggle between the two and almost ten police officers.  The two were eventuall placed under rest.

The arrested foreigner was a 27-year-old sailor named Moore.  He will be charged with assault.  Afterwards, he was still quite incoherent, as he alterated between clearly saying "I am so sorry!  I am so sorry!" to incoherently yelling and screaming.  The other foreigner named Mannix was in his 30's, and was in a drunken stupor.  He was released shortly.

At the scene, two American military-looking like persons wearing blue blazers with the letters S.L.G. arrived and accompanied the arrestee to the police station.  Bail of HK$2,000 was posted and the suspect was released.  The American consulate has no comments and refers all inquiries to the Kitty Hawk spokesperson.

(Oriental Daily)

Last evening at around 7pm, the special duty squad of the Mongkok police district made surprise inspections at various erotic entertainment establishments on Honglok Street, Shanghai Street and Portland Street.  This area is commonly referred to as the Erotic Fifth Avenue (色情五街).

At a certain 24-hour-a-day massage parlor, the squad arrested three Thai nationals on tourist visas and two Chinese nationals on 30-day visas on the grounds that they violated the terms of their stay.  It was also noted that there were three foreign males among the customers.  These were found to be sailors from U.S.S. Kitty Hawk.  Information was taken about their identities and they were permitted to depart.

Read this related post about the Chinese navy flotilla visiting Hong Kong last year.  Astonishingly, the New York Times characterized that a national navy visiting a home port as a threat to democracy.  But the more relevant piece of information is that the kinds of behavior noted above would never ever occur from the Chinese sailors because they know that they are representing their country, but their problem is that they have no money to spend.  So this is the problem: how do you get nicely behaved customers with lots of money to spend?

This is not to say that all Chinese travelers are nice, either.  This other item in Ta Kung Pao is about China's national soccer team.  The team had been training and playing friendlies in Australia, and were returning to China via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific airlines.  During the flight, some of them were playing cards and making a ruckus to the annoyance of other passengers who complained to the air stewardess.  When she asked the players to stop, they refused to listen to her and she was in fact shoved hard and fell.  

When the airplane arrived in Hong Kong, the police came on board to investigate.  Guess what?  Two players allegedly even verbally abused the police and shoved them.  As a result, the two were brought back to the police station for investigation and the air stewardess was sent to the hospital for observation.  Eventually, the two players were released for 'lack of evidence.'

Ta Kung Po said that everybody knows that the Chinese national soccer team stinks in recent years, and the fact that the players don't know how to behave themselves makes it even harder to give them any kind of support.

Private citizens are responsible for their own behavior, but when someone wears a national uniform, he/she represents their country.  In the case of the American navy personnel, the issue isn't one of just two bad apples out of the 10,000 that came ashore.  The bigger problem is what the two police reports represents in public perception -- people think that many of the sailors come ashore looking to get drunk and to get some piece of ass and it is understandable that people don't have the greatest respect for them (and therefore the country that they represent).