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The urine incident

A Chinese mother allowed her toddler to urinate on a busy Hong Kong street as the lines for the public toilet were too long. Photo: Scmp

Chinese tourists with their toddler daughter argue with passers-by in Hong Kong after the child urinated in the street. Photo: YouTube

A new, social media-fueled controversy is aggravating tensions between Hong Kong and Chinese mainland. Footage emerged online last week of an incident in which a toddler -- the child of Chinese mainland tourists -- was seen urinating in a Hong Kong street. In the video, an angry, hectoring crowd in Mong Kok, a packed shopping district popular with Chinese tourists, surrounds the family, causing the child to cry. The parents try to grab the memory card of someone in the crowd who had filmed the child. People in the crowd shout at the family in Cantonese, as the parents respond in Mandarin. The mother was reportedly arrested for allegedly slapping someone.

The video of the altercation has gone viral with more than a million people viewing the video on social media site Weibo.

Much of the furor centers around the perceived gap between standards of social behavior in mainland and Hong Kong. Hong Kong became a special administrative region of China in 1997 but is governed separately. Hong Kong has wide-ranging autonomy, an independent judiciary and relatively free press under the formula of "one country, two systems."

It is illegal to let a child relieve themselves in the street in Hong Kong and doing so can result in a HK$2000 fine. However, the practice is relatively common in Chinese mainland. 

The incident in Mong Kok last week occurred because there was a long line for a public toilet and the child could not wait, according to the Want China Times.

The Chinese couple got into a physical altercation as they tried to take the memory card from the camera of the young man taking photos of their daughter 

‘The child was going to pee in her pants, what do you want me do?’ the mother can be heard telling onlookers in the video. She was arrested for allegedly slapping one of the locals across the face and ramming another with the pram.

The row came to light after a Hong Kong reporter, Luqiu Luwei, posted the details on her blog.

An anonymous user of China’s popular online forum,, has now escalated tensions by calling on mainland parents to bring their children to Hong Kong this week and let them urinate in the streets in protest.

Since being posted online, the video and images of the toddler has drawn more than one million comments on Weibo social media alone.

‘Why don't the couple let the child wear the diaper as a precaution in the first place?’ Ivan lam posted on Weibo.

‘They could talk to the people in the line to let them use the bathroom first or let the child pee inside the bathroom instead of on the street.’

But Chinese citizens weighing in on the debate have hit back at the treatment of the couple and child.

‘The man had no right to take pictures of a little girl peeing and violate her privacy,’ Weibo user youyouyu wrote.

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