• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 6:01am
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


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


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This article is now closed to comments

The creation of hate towards Mainlanders becomes more systematically and professional organized. Starting with the so called Beijing-hater "lawmakers" and their organizations who will do everything to bring people in HK on their side to support them. Even if it means to create hate towards the Mainland and so the Mainlanders.
Lack of education and wide view the majority of HK are easy to manipulate. You just need to create fear and anger. An incitement of the masses. In many countries in Europe you get in jail for that.
Milk powder is not scarce in Hong Kong. Common sense, good logistics, and a "can do" attitude are sorely lacking however.
Who is behind the hate in Hong Kong? Hong Kongers have little hearts? no capacity for understanding? on and on....? WTF Hong Kong? You're the problem, not the mainlanders
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.
A Hong Konger
jkhleung: I actually sited poverty, historical factors, economic distortion of closer integration, the complete disempowerment of the entire population of Hong Kong and, yes, lack of universal suffrage. I also sited the an economic jealousy (though only for a tiny minority of misery Hong Kongers that do not represent us) and the developments of the last few years (parallel traders, property prices, etc) as reasons for anti Mainland sentiment manifested as hostility to Mainlanders for minor (or major) indiscretions, I'm afraid not "the root cause of all evils in HK" as you said. Though the issues I mentioned are indeed the cause of incredible misery here. There is a century and a half of history to consider as well as the political and economic structure. I'm afraid ethnic tensions are not a simple issue and there is no way to put it in a 'nutshell'. For my part, I am a staunch believer in genuine HK autonomy but will not, as a Hong Konger, lower myself to taunting Mainlanders. All visitors are welcome and are expected to behave as good guests (woe unto those who do not!), just as our dignity demands we be good hosts. My rage and fury is directed at the institutions (both political and economic) that perpetuate what I mentioned, also it is directed at the weakness in character amongst HKers that prevent us from actually doing something to change our future and instead target innocent (and not so innocent) mainlanders in the street to address our grievances.
Sad ...we forget history and culture so easily. What happen to 银水知原 ?。It would appears that
many would rather prefer the days where Hong Kong was a colony.
Kelly Yang is a product of Berzerkly, no more needs to be said.
She was well indoctrinated.
I would think that the analogy of California-Mexican is wrong to be applied in Hong Kong where Hong Kong has a short supply of resources and their visits would over-burden what we can offer and provide to local. Even though you may claim that the economic lost in California outweighs its saving cost in social services, it would not be a sufficient argument to welcome their visit. A society is not merely about economic development, it is also about social, cultural and environmental welfare of citizens. It would be too unwise to ignore other core values that build up Hong Kong.
To "A Hong Konger", the lack of universal suffrage explains all our sins and justifies all our uncultured behaviour! I beg to differ. Does it not occur to him/her that other important factors such as the gutter press, the generally low standard of the the people in the media, the low standard of our teachers etc.. , in short the low standard of the populace, that are root cause of these problems?
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.
Nope. The new money spent in Hong Kong is exported inflation from China, which is primarily created by new credit issuance in the Mainland property sector. It is primarily a monetary phenomena, not a cultural one. From this it is easy to predict that once Mainland China stops inflating their money supply, the "Mainland tourist boom", which is really more of a physical manifestation of exported inflation to exploit price fixing in the currency valuation of the HKD, then the issue would go away pretty soon.
Letting the HKD appreciate against the RMB would be the best way to move forward. However, strong vested interestes will voice all types of doomsday scenarios if this is proposed.




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