By Umberto Bacchi
A toddler who urinated in the middle of a busy street has ignited a culture clash between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Netizens and newspapers on opposite sides of the internal border have been squabbling since a mainland couple allowed their little girl to relieve herself in the kerb in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district.
As the girl crouched, her parents surrounded by a small crowd of passersby who accused them of indency.
The mother tried to explain that the nearest public toilet had a long queue outside and that the child could not last much longer.
"The kid was going to pee in her pants, what do you want me do?" she is heard saying in a video uploaded online.
The situation heated up as the father tried to snatch a memory card from the camera of an onlooker who was taking photos.
A scuffle erupted and police were called. The husband and wife were held on suspicion of theft and assault but released.
Videos and photos of the incident went viral online and were shared more than one million times on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.
Hongkongers have long complained about what they perceive as Chinese tourists' bad manners, while the latter accuse the first of being snobbish and arrogant.
"The radical passersby in Hong Kong tried to show their moral superiority while they only revealed the vulgar side of the region," an editorial published by the Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times read.
Chinese commentators lashed out at what they said was an over-reaction.
An opinion poll by Sina.com revealed tha, out of more than 120,000 Chinese interviewed, only 11% thought that it was not okay for a child to urinate in the street.
"While there is no denying that some mainland tourists do behave barbarically, the Hong Kong public tends to impose undue discrimination by patronising them," another opinion writer wrote in the Global Times.
Some mainlanders even called for a boycott of Hong Kong in response.
"If us, the mainlanders, stopped travelling to Hong Kong for months, they will come begging us to go back," one wrote on Chinese forum Tianya.
Another urged compatriots to flood the streets of Hong Kong with children's urine.
"Bring children to Hong Kong and let them urinate in Hong Kong's streets. Let's see who will come and take photos," Haijiao No68 wrote, according to SCMP. "They will see it as natural after they have been familiarised with the act."