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  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:45am
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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

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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johndoe
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.
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.
Prof.Sencha
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.
pgrath1
Kelly Yang is a product of Berzerkly, no more needs to be said.
She was well indoctrinated.
jayb
WAIT a minute Kelly Yang!!! mixing CA denying illegal aliens from getting public welfare, public health care, public education with prejudice against Chinese tourists to HongKong? no country in the world allows illegal aliens from getting freebies at the expense of taxpayers. tell me which country, except crazy USA, does this?
sudouest
Please Hong Kongers, if it was not for Beijing coming to the rescue, HK would have got into a big trouble during the 1998 Asian financial crisis. Did they even start boasting about their big rescue mission ?
Stop cursing and start making a positive contribution to remedy the situation. And don't even start pushing the problem to someone else to solve it. Don't be the guy who fold arms and selfishly thinking of themselves like in the picture.
If Beijing have helped you, now it's time you help them. It's a gigantic country !! They have already plenty of stuff on their plates. You are like kids crying and complaining to big mama, while she needs to tend to all the chores and each kid big and small. Gosh !
johndoe
How about you read up on excess leverage, credit financing and systemic risk and come back later.
A Hong Konger
sudouest: What 'rescue mission'? HK was in massive trouble in 1998! Property prices crashed 70% and the Hang Seng dropped from over 15,000 to under 8,000! There were so many bankruptcies! Don't you remember? The only 'help' we got from China then was the provision legislature, a reinterpretation of the basic law (ironically barring mainlanders from HK) and Tung Chee-Wah (what a fat, bumbling idiot he was!). As for 'helping' China, well, HK is the largest single 'foreign' investor in China today and our expertise was sought in opening China in the 80s and 90s, granted it was for a profit, but if you believe the standard neoliberal line it was for the good of China. Ok, so far, so good... For China anyway. However, this 'gigantic country' next door dictates our laws and, though closer integration distorts our markets, creating poverty, while lining the pockets of the greedy HK tycoons and opportunistic Mainlanders. There are also other historical and political reasons at work for anti-mainland sentiment, it's not simply HK petulance. Though it's a shame that it's manifested as hostility to Mainlanders instead of hostility to the structure that causes our misery.
sindysisi
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.
Dai Muff
Argument by analogy is ALWAYS stupid.

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