In a Chinese New Year’s message, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has encouraged citizens to embrace the Year of the Sheep.
Namely, this includes becoming more like sheep: mild, gentle, peaceful, and accommodating.
“I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character,” Leung said.
After a year that was “rife with differences and conflicts,” including Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution, Leung’s invoking of the sheep strikes some as a call for obedience and blind loyalty.
Meanwhile, Leung has been dubbed ‘the Wolf,’ by dissenters, which could add to his message a somewhat alarming meaning.
“Does he know he has been called a wolf by Hong Kong people?” one protester told CNN. “So is it the wolf speaking, wanting Hong Kong people to behave like sheep, so as to be slaughtered and eaten up by him?
The Hong Kong leader’s reputation as a wolf is well known, and demand for a stuffed wolf toy skyrocketed in 2013, after it became a widespread symbol of protest.
Leung also released a video with the message, which features happy children gardening and playing with goats. Leung later specified in a blog post that the children were not paid actors, South China Morning Post reported.
Here’s the full message:
Another Chinese New Year has arrived. It is time to bid farewell to the Year of the Horse and welcome the Year of the Sheep.
The 12 Chinese zodiac animals represent 12 character types. Sheep are widely seen to be mild and gentle animals living peacefully in groups.
Last year was no easy ride for Hong Kong. Our society was rife with differences and conflicts. In the coming year, I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character and pull together in an accommodating manner to work for Hong Kong’s future.
At the beginning of the Year of the Sheep, we wish every one of you good health, great happiness and a harmonious family life.