Banner row has Hong Kong entering the post-truth era

Hong Kong may be entering a post-truth era, too. Scanning the websites and online forums of the opposition and those of pro-establishment circles over the past two weeks, you can hardly tell facts from rumours and conspiracy theories. The impression they give is that the only truths are those that accord with your own political stance.

The rows over offensive banners put up at several university campuses have been the catalyst, though things have been going downhill in this regard for a long time. One common conspiracy theory among radicals and activists is that the big poster congratulating Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin on the suicide of her 25-year-old son was not put up by Education University students at all. Rather, outside forces used the poster as a “false-flag” operation to discredit the fight by student leaders for freedom of speech and the right to raise issues about Hong Kong independence on university campuses.

Meanwhile, not a few members of the pro-government camp have speculated that the same university students or others sympathetic to them – rather than nationalistic mainland students – put up campus banners, written in simplified characters, to celebrate the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia being under house arrest. This was to distract people from the row over the Christine Choi banner, which has put the student activists and their university union representatives in a terrible light.

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Is Hong Kong Entering the Post-Truth Era?