Last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange closed its iconic trading floor after 30 years of operations. Following a refurbishment, a new exhibition and conference space called Connect Hall opened on Tuesday amid great fanfare.
Attendees could not help but notice one of the hall’s main design features: A wall showcasing dozens of different Chinese characters featuring the radical bei/bui (貝) – the “shell coin” currency of ancient China – which, in the modern language, signifies “money”. Characters included “wealth” (財), “win” (赢) and “purchase” (購).
However, in the Chinese language, the radical does not always provide the true meaning of the character.
Among the characters also featured on the Connect Hall wall were “defeat” (敗), “poor” (貧), “greed” (貪), and “cheap” or “lowly” (賤).
Perhaps more ominously, in a financial context, the wall also featured the characters “compensate” (賠), “thief” (賊), “bribe” (both 賄 and 賂), “proceeds of crime” (贓), and “depreciate” (貶).
#賄 #賂 #賊 #贜
#負 #資 #賤 #貪 #貧…
Unrelated characters that contain the particle bei/bui – but without using it as a radical – such as “toilet” (廁) – were also spotted.
Netizens called the wall a public relations disaster. “Is the designer trying to indirectly say something?” asked one Facebook commenter.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but there are just too many negative words with the particle bei/bui,” said another.
“The construction of the exhibition centre is a systemic work that requires constant improvement and renewal,” a Stock Exchange spokesperson told HKFP in response to enquiries.
“The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has listened to various opinions, and will modify and perfect the exhibits on the bei-character wall.”