• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:18pm
Column
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 4:12am

Anti-mainlander hate demeans Hongkongers

Kelly Yang says whatever the daily frustration of living with more visitors from the mainland, it demeans us to take it out on them

BIO

Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school writing program for children in Hong Kong. At KYP, she teaches creative writing, public speaking and critical reasoning. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellyyanghk
 

It saddens me that we have become a city filled with hate. Everywhere I went this past week, there it was. I saw it in the people standing next to me in the taxi queue. A mainland Chinese woman with a small child strolled down the street and walked right up to an approaching taxi. Eight people in line lunged towards her. "Hey!" they screamed, grabbing her by the arm, "You can't come here and jump our queue! This isn't China!" They proceeded to bark insults at her, one after another, so much so that she started shaking and could barely utter the words, "My husband … he's in the queue … at the front of the line …" We all turned to look at the husband, who waved at us. Did anybody apologise? No.

I saw it in the words people wrote on Facebook forums all week, complaining about the "swarms of locusts infesting Ocean Park" or beautiful sunny days at Disneyland ruined by the "hordes of dreadful mainlanders". These are not anonymous forums, either. People are happy - proud, even - to put their names next to such hate. And, of course, I saw it on the faces of shoppers - countless shoppers who looked like someone had died because they had to share their mall with "those people".

The hate is stomach-turning, especially as the Lunar New Year is a time for us to celebrate and come together as a community of Chinese people. Growing up in the United States, I longed to see another Chinese person whenever the Lunar New Year came round. It didn't matter if they were Taiwanese, mainlanders or Hongkongers. In my mind, they were all my fellow people.

Hate is a cheap and dirty trick. When California was in a recession in the early 1990s, then governor Pete Wilson pushed for the passage of legislation to make illegal Mexican immigrants scapegoats for all California's problems. Proposition 187 aimed to deny illegal immigrants health care, education and many other public benefits. Voters passed the proposition by a wide margin. Years later, studies showed that illegal immigrants contributed far more to the economy than they cost in social services.

If you went to school in California in the 1990s like I did, you would have heard the nasty comments children at the playground made to anyone who looked remotely Mexican. Or the terrified looks on the faces of Hispanic children, not because they were illegals but because Proposition 187 encouraged us all to distrust, disassociate and despise.

Does the influx of mainland Chinese affect our everyday lives? Absolutely. School places are harder to get and apartments are more expensive to buy. Even milk powder is getting scarce. But does that make it right to narrow our eyes, point our fingers, and call them names whenever we see one of them walking down Queen's Road? For our children to laugh at them? To automatically presume that every mainland tourist who comes to Hong Kong is going to jump queues, urinate in public and hoard milk? I don't think it does.

We may have legitimate reasons to want to keep them out, and every right to address our concerns through legal and legislative channels. But when we vent our anger on perfect strangers, people whose only "wrong" is booking a holiday here, what we're doing is hating.

And hate, no matter how you sugarcoat it, is toxic.

Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school programme for children in Hong Kong. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School. kelly@kellyyang.com

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

35

This article is now closed to comments

anotherguy
The problems have to be resolved through proper policies. Forget all the mainland stereotypes whether they are true or not. People need to drop their hatred and respect other human beings - this is the perhaps the most basic core value a decent human should have. Endless debate about whether mainlanders deserve the disrespect or hatred is pointless since they are bound to have both civilised and uncivilised people everywhere. And seriously, in the eyes of many outsiders, HK people are not exactly that civilised too. The very fact that we always so critical of a nation where it is only in its emerging phase seems a bit too petty. Don't forget that HK is not far better when it is emerging.
megafun
if one looks into the details of these problems, one can blame our Government for not creating alternative shopping malls at LokMaChau and other border areas; one may allocate this to vested interests of a few local property tycoons and local shop owners! The same applies to school places, when they ought to have built more schools at the border, away from Sheung Shui, since its known there will be alot of cross border students. The LokMaChau education hub needs to be done asap, and if they get it right also be done eco-friendly.
Dai Muff
This article HAD to be by an American-Chinese, who does not recognise that many Hong Kongers do not have her way out of an unliveable city.,
megafun
discrimination is unacceptable, even if it is popular. Does our society prefers evil over kindness? HKers must learn to be fair and drop all this anti-mainlander attitude.
megafun
if one looks into the details of these problems, one can blame our Government for not creating alternative shopping malls at LokMaChau and other border areas; due to vested interests of a few local property tycoons! The same applies to school places, when they ought to have built more schools at the border, away from Sjeung Shui, since its known there will be alot of cross border students.
mockinggenius
Now Hong Kong people are being labelled as being racist, uneducated for our so called hatred towards these mainland visitors. Is this fair to us whose patience, tolerance have been tested to the limit? I don't want to walk around with anger, frustration but frankly some of the things which these people do - a big spit landed on my shoe inside the MTR without an apology from the culprit, feet crushed by their suitcases which they pulled everywhere even inside tiny shops, ears deafened by their screams inside a confined elevator space (try taking the one in Salisbury Rd from G/F to MTR subway), their toddlers urinating in public areas is no longer shocking because it has become too common. Last but not least I was being shown an I Pad by a salesman and had it snatched away because a mainland visitor wanted to test the weight. Yes there is a difference in culture and acceptance of behaviour but there is only so much a local can put up with each day .Hong Kong is a small place and we can no longer go to a tiny corner which we can call our own.This is how bad the situation have come to.
@madams
I agree with Kelly although the Mexican analogy is poor on many levels. Mainland China is a big place -- there are jerks there and nice people, just like other places, yet the anger directed at them seems to make no distinction which makes it appear to me like discrimination.
But this isn't new, discriminatory practices and attitudes are rampant in HK -- consider the example of South Asian community who despite speaking Cantonese isn't well integrated into HK. Or the many foreigners who live here and call it home for decades yet most of their Cantonese friends are overseas Chinese returnees. Or the many foreigners married to HK'ers who can't get any right of abode for themselves or their children, or the ethnicity-basis we use for immigration so even talented foreigners who live here decades remain just foreigners....
Cantonese live everywhere in the world, gain citizenship and prosper through hard work and perseverance. So why deny others the same here? Isn't it just discrimination?
syracuse37
This is a heated discussion! I lived in Hong Kong and in Mainland and I am a foreigner. In my mind Hong Kong is more civilized and the people follow the rules and this makes it sometimes easier to go around and less frustrating when waiting in line. However I still think that the problem is not really the mainlanders themselves but the fact that Hong Kong in it way of managing tourists is doing a poor job.
What I mean is that the main problem is overcrowding. When you have difficulty walking in causeway bay, can't catch a cab, you get impatient and then the first mainlander who cuts in line just make you explose.
Mainlanders come in hk to shop mainly and this will continue even with increasing hkd because of the absence of tax and confidence in quality. Why not creating a new shopping zone outside of the main traditional sites like causeway bay central and TST. By doing this those area would be less crowded, HK people would still get benefits and mainlanders too.
By the way a 1% tax on sales in HK would be a great idea to sweep some momey before the bread and butter that are mainlanders stop coming and shopping.
Better management by city authority, creating new zone, more space, using tax money to build better housing and I am sure the situation will improve.
Regards
jkhleung
@ A Hong Konger: In a nutshell, you're blaming the lack of universal suffrage as the root cause of all evils in HK. I beg to differ. I suggest possible (and simpler) reasons for the uncultured responses to the mainlanders: the gutter press, low standard of journalism, low standard of the teachers, superiority complex and an ambivalent attitude to mother China.
Dai Muff
Here's the fact. If I go to Rome or Paris or Madrid and behave like a pig, people will look down on me. And it won't be because of racism. I actually like many of the mainlanders I meet here, if they come with genuine openness and appreciation and not to make a fast buck at the expense of Hong Kong people. But people DO get judged by the behavior of other members of their group whether they like it or not.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or