Pro-Cantonese Protesters Rally in Guangdong

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GUANGZHOU, Aug. 2 – Hundreds of people gathered in Guangzhou on Sunday in a show of support for the local Cantonese dialect, leading to scuffles with police and the brief detention of a small group of reporters and protesters.

The gathering was sparked by a government proposal to switch local television programming from Cantonese to Mandarin Chinese.

The proposal, made by the local committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Guangzhou to replace some prime time Cantonese television programming with Mandarin programs, was ostensibly aimed at catering to visitors to the city for the upcoming Asian Games to be held in November.

Sunday’s protest was the second the city had seen in as many weeks and remained largely peaceful until police officers intervened to try and disperse the crowd, leading to shoving.

According to Reuters, about 24 people were detained by the police including eight journalists from Hong Kong.

In a statement on their department web site, the Guangzhou police vowed to “punish those who were unreasonable and created trouble,” the South China Morning Post reported.

The protest coincided with a sister rally in Hong Kong where around 200 people marched to the central government offices. No police intervened in the proceedings.