We must stop feeding mainland cringe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2012, 12:00am


A family friend came to visit us recently in distress. She says their 11-year-old daughter has declared many times that she is ashamed of her and her husband.

Originally from the mainland, the couple have lived here for more than a decade. The daughter was born in Hong Kong. Now she has declared she is not a mainlander but a 'pure' Hongkonger.

She was raised speaking fluent Cantonese and Putonghua. But now she has forced herself to unlearn Putonghua.

When the girl's father speaks to her in Putonghua, she pretends not to hear. She has refused to write e-mails to her grandparents on the mainland in simplified characters, the Chinese script used on the mainland. She would not let her mother anywhere near her local school because her friends and their parents would realise she was from the mainland.

The mother has a masters degree from a top mainland university in English; the father is a senior engineer with one of the big three state-run oil companies. His job takes him across Asia and the Caucasus.

They are the type of professional couples who represent the modern, resurgent China, but 15 years after the handover, they are ill at ease in Hong Kong.

Being ashamed of your parents may be a universal phenomenon, but Hong Kong's milieu gives the girl's shame specific content.

Under the guise of democratic struggle, our media, public rallies and pan-democratic politicians have gone against all things mainland. They often make inflammatory statements that they would not get away with had they been directed at any other ethnic group in Hong Kong. All these are having an effect on our young, and we think it's an education in democracy.

Critics of mass movements - democratic or not - have long warned against this type of mob irrationality and discriminatory behaviour. And we are proving them right.

Our tragedy is that the girl is turning against her parents, and we are turning against China, precisely when the nation is reversing two centuries of decline and catastrophes - surely a moment of pride, not of shame.