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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:53am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Why living in Hong Kong as mainland Chinese is no piece of cake

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 10:38am

Joy Yang first wrote in Chinese about her experience as a person from the mainland living in Hong Kong. Her story was a hit on Weibo and sparked heated discussion. She has translated her article into English to share with SCMP readers.

We constantly hear Hong Kong locals complain about people who visit from the mainland and buy up milk powder or take up space in maternity wards, but rarely are the voices of those from the mainland heard.

My first impression of Hong Kong was not a good one. I was part of a batch of 28 undergraduates who had arrived from top universities on the mainland to study at the University of Hong Kong in 1999. I was 18 and excited about starting an adult life in the “Pearl of the Orient”, with its fancy shops, pop stars and legends of successful businessmen.

This excitement was soon replaced by anger and disappointment. A few days after arriving, a tutor at the hall of residence and a local female student came to my room and asked if they could search it. The girl said her mobile phone had been stolen. They rummaged through our bags then left with no apologies. But it was clearly written on their faces what they were thinking: “Where the hell are these two poor mainland girls hiding my mobile phone?”

I felt angry, but, sadly, it was not the last time this would happen. When something went missing in the hall of residence, the mainland students were always the first ones, and for most of the time the only ones, to be suspected. What was particularly insulting was that most of the suspected stolen items were insignificant - a slice of cheese or a bottle of milk. Yes, China’s per-capita GDP was low, but were we so poor in those locals’ eyes that even an orange was worth stealing?

After such bad experiences, I was always ready to strike back whenever I felt insulted or discriminated against. One time a local asked for my help on her class project comparing Hong Kong with Shanghai. Her first question was whether there was karaoke in Shanghai. Such an ignorant question offended my big Shanghainese ego. And when she asked about the living conditions there, I answered, with full arrogance: “My home in Shanghai was more than 1,000 square feet. How big is your home in Hong Kong?”

I did not make many good friends with local students at first, but I did not care. I don’t have to blend into the local culture, I told myself.

Sooner or later, those Hongkongers will recognise that mainland China is no longer a poor country, and we will influence the world with our growing economic and political power – more than Hong Kong does. So why should I care about blending into the local culture?

I could have kept “fighting” like that until one incident changed me.

After many conflicts I had with local students, the student union decided to kick me out of the hall of residence. The last straw, I believed, was when I defended a mainland tutor at a meeting and argued that her critics were discriminating against mainlanders. The mainlanders are my ally, and Hongkongers are our common enemy – I truly believed it at that time.

But when the student union labelled me as a troublemaker, not only did the tutor not speak out for me as I did for her, but she also turned her back on me.

“Who asked her to fight with the local students?” she told others behind my back. I felt betrayed.

I started losing hope that I would find a place to live until a Hong Kong tutor called me to say that the hall of residence had decided to give me another chance. She said some locals had argued that I was simply from a different culture and that the hall should welcome different views.

I was shocked when I heard that.

Betrayed by my ally only to be saved by my enemy - that completely changed my mentality. I became more receptive to local culture. More locals said they were eager to learn from me about the mainland, and I apologised to them, admitting that I had been too extreme in the past.

What I want to say is simple: blending into Hong Kong’s local culture is not that difficult, if we have the right attitude. That is what I learned 10 years ago. I left Hong Kong in 2002 for graduate school in the US, with full appreciation of what Hong Kong had taught me, both academically and non-academically.

But life is always more complicated than we think. I returned to Hong Kong in 2011, after studying and working in the US for nine years. Nowadays in Hong Kong, I find that blending into the local culture is not as simple as 10 years ago.

I started noticing the rapidly changing dynamics between locals and mainlanders from afar.

For example, HKU offers one-year exchange programmes for its undergraduates to study abroad. Students are selected based on academic performance and extra-curriculum activities. Each year we received about four to five HKU students in Los Angeles, and usually three or four of them were students originally from the mainland.

This had to do with the rising population of mainland students in Hong Kong. Back in my day, the economics department only had three to four mainland students. We got As most of the time, but plenty of As were left for local students. Today the economics department has about 20 to 30 mainland students, and when they get most of the As, as I heard from a HKU professor, a B is the best that a local student can hope for.

It’s not about who is smarter. After all, one is selected from a population of 1.4 billion and the other is from a population of seven million. Even though universities are supposed to be a place for fair competition, it is understandable why many Hong Kong students dislike their mainland peers. Ten years ago we “stole” apples and milk; today we “steal” As in class.

The younger generation from the mainland constantly outperforms locals in other aspects too. They score high in exams, participate in social activities and even speak better English than many local students. “We invited investment bankers to give seminars on campus,” an HKU professor said, “and after, all the mainland students rushed to socialise with the speaker, handed in their resumes and asked for internship opportunities, while many local students just hid themselves in the back rows.”

My speculation that Hongkongers felt threatened by mainlanders was confirmed when I returned in 2011. Yes, there are more mainlanders in Hong Kong than ever, and Hong Kong has never been this close to its motherland. But if you think that made my life here easier, you are wrong. Locals are rejecting mainland people and culture harder than before.

That’s why I realise that having a happy life in Hong Kong is no longer as simple as having the right attitude. It is harder to blend into the local culture than 10 years ago because the pushback from local people is harder than ever. This view is probably not shared by some of my mainland peers living in Hong Kong. Some of them do not think it necessary to blend into the local culture. “I earn more money than most of the Hongkongers” and “I always ask them to speak Putonghua to me”, one of my Beijing friends said with pride.

Resistance from locals is particularly obvious in two areas – the financial sector and the working class. The lack of transparency and the unique Chinese culture are often challenging for foreigners working in the Chinese market. Top investment banks and hedge funds prefer to hire mainlanders – over Hongkongers, ABCs and Westerners – for their China business knowledge. In Central, Putonghua is becoming a popular language, not only in shopping malls, but also in offices.

Working-class people are probably the ones who are mostly affected and, to some extent, squeezed. They face shortages of milk powder and of hospital beds, and a crowded Ocean Park - I would complain too if I were a local.

The problem is not unique to Hong Kong. Beijingers and Shanghainese complain about new migrants in their cities too. It’s all about competition for limited social welfare. In some aspects, Hong Kong is worse off. At least for a baby born in Shanghai or Beijing, she is not qualified for a hukou [residency permit] in the city if neither parent has one. But in Hong Kong, any child born here would automatically get access to the social welfare system – even if their parents are not permanent Hong Kong residents.

So who should be blamed for the rising tension between Hong Kong and the mainland? In my view, some Hong Kong media could take more responsibility. They could be fairer and stop reporting biased stories for the sake of boosting sales. The central government should also take more decisive actions to solve its food safety problem, so that mainland mums do not have to travel to Hong Kong for milk powder. Joint efforts by Hong Kong people, mainlanders, media and government will make the city a friendlier place to study, work and live.


I’d like to ask a question to end my story: nowadays in Hong Kong, should I speak Putonghua or Cantonese when I go shopping? I tried once to speak Cantonese in the Harbour City shopping mall, but the saleswoman turned away and greeted other mainland shoppers with her fluent Putonghua. I then tried to speak Putonghua at another store in Causeway Bay and received good service. But when I decided to leave without buying any shoes, the salesperson’s face went dark. She asked angrily: “Why you don’t buy? They are so cheap! And it’s another 20 per cent off if you pay with RMB!” I realised finally that it’s not about language; it’s all about your wallet.

Joy Yang is from Shanghai. She studied at the University of Hong Kong and at the University of California, Los Angeles in the US. She worked in Washington DC as an economist for the International Monetary Fund and now works in the financial industry in Hong Kong.


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This article is now closed to comments

I work at a University, Mainland student's English is rarely better than local HK students...at least that's my experience....HK people DO feel threatened by Mainland people, however it is not for the reasons this person mentions, it is due to the aggressive behavior they display...this ranges from consumer behavior, to how they interact in public spaces.
"this article is come from a secondary school student"
I wonder if this comment "is come" from a kindergarten student. Don't be critical of others before being critical of yourself, please.
Too many mainlanders in Hong Kong are the living, walking and talking product of the morally corrupt mainland system, i.e. part of the Party's in-crowd, the power elite who incarcerate people without a fair trial, for expressing honestly-held but unwelcome views. We are bound to look upon these visitors with suspicion, particularly those most well-heeled, as recent history has shown beyond doubt that most of them gained their wealth by ripping off the working class through Party connection in the most horrendous fashion. In contrast, at least a reasonable portion of Hong Kong's successes got there through genuine toil, creativity and/or talent. Not so for the mainlanders. If they came from a decent system, we would welcome them with open arms and have little to see by way of clash of viewpoint. Change the system, gain respect.
The group of Hong Kong people that react passively socially and not open minded enough only represent a certain percentage of the population and don't necessarily set the standards of what Hong Kong people are like. The elite group of Hong Kong people that have studied abroad and speak fluent English and not afraid to confront and stand up for themselves for any sort of situations and uphold the social fairness are the gold standards that everyone either foreigner or mainlander should try to identify and interact with and build a sustainable relationship with. It's true that locals that are not too well off and brought up in a culturally enclosed environment do not have a choice and they accept the way they are, but isn't this the same everywhere in the world even in USA. So if one confronts unnecessary friction with locals, the smartest way is to make the extra effort in resolving differences or offer an extra bit of generosity than whining about it and building up more hate thoughts and generally feeling negative.
"Some of them do not think it necessary to blend into the local culture. “I earn more money than most of the Hongkongers” and “I always ask them to speak Putonghua to me”, one of my Beijing friends said with pride."
Dear Joy, that's a good example of the sort of behaviour and attitude locals are 'pushing harder' against. As long as some Mainlanders think of themselves as coming from the 'motherland' to 'little' Hong Kong, or think that increased income and GDP of the PRC will change HKers' attitudes to mainlanders in general, the opposition to the mainland and everything it represents will continue and become more fervent. The arrogance of your Beijing friend is inexcusable and perhaps says a lot about his character. It would appear he thinks himself better than the locals just because he earns a higher income. Contempt is not just a one-way thing with poor mainlanders being discriminated against by small-minded locals. It absolutely cuts the other way and everything I have heard from the way mainlanders talk about the Hong Kong Chinese over here (in Shanghai) suggests the same arrogance of China being the new up-and-coming power and the gloating over the growing integration (or loss of independence) of Hong Kong and its culture, as well as the sense that they should 'get in line' with the mainstream.
In the end, it's a too way issue. Locals should be more open minded and incidents like the ones you experienced during your early days in HK are sad and regrettable, but
John Adams
What Ms Joy Yang sincerely wrote is, sad to say, largely true in general. There IS prejudice against Mainlanders in HK , whether they were students in the late 1990's (like Ms Yang ) or tourists today.
No society likes sudden change and the sudden huge influx of Mainland Chinese in the past few years ( 9 million per month !) has been a paradigm shift for us HK-ers.

But happy to say, that's not the end of the story. I have spent the past 25 of my working life integrating our HK office staff with our Mainland office staff, with the successful result that there is now mutual affection and respect in every respect (in fact, I now give preference when recruiting HK staff to those who have lived and worked in China before) So it can be done by those who have an open mind and heart.
For HK-ers who choose to stay here: we all knew from 1984 onwards that in 1997 we would become part of China. So we must either accept the change and like it - or leave

And, as w2kwong correctly commented below - if anyone from the Mainland - or any other country for that matter - does not like it here, they are free to leave .
(I am sure Ms Yang is only working here because she can earn more here than in China - so yes it is indeed all about wallets .... on both sides ! )
Like it or leave it, nobody force you to stay. If you don't like HK you can go back to where you come from
"“I earn more money than most of the Hongkongers” and “I always ask them to speak Putonghua to me”, one of my Beijing friends said with pride."
The second part I can understand; if both parties know Putonghua and only one party knows Cantonese then of course you would use the language that's common. But to use Putonghua because you make more money than the other people??? How different is that from the arrogant discrimination you first faced in 1999 Ms Yang? I understand that it's your friend who is doing this but the article seem to portray you as condoning this type of thinking.
About your closing question. I face similar situations if I am pulled over by the police while driving or on my motorcycle (especially on my motorcycle since my face is covered by a helmet and people can't tell if I am Chinese); do I use English which a lot of my friends say will get me out of trouble since some constables don't want the hassle of dealing with a foreigner or do I use Chinese? I speak all 3 fluently but in my set of value system, I choose to speak Cantonese to the officer. Why? Because this is Hong Kong and the local language is Cantonese; I don't go to Canada and speak Chinese to the police officers to try to get out of trouble, so why should people do that in Hong Kong? I would rather get a ticket by speaking Cantonese than to be one of those people who try to abuse their language abilities.
So one should judge the usage of language NOT on money but on principle.
When you go to another country, you need to be humble and sadly this is not in the case of China people. Not only Hkers despise them, but there also many people from other countries despise them. I have met many rude China people during my visit to Hong Kong, but the Hkers were quite friendly to us. When we encountered problems at MTR stations, they tried to help us. I am not talking about MTR staffs but local citizens. When we couldn't find a eatery place, there was a couple who offered us to sit beside their table which earlier when we asked China people, they refused to give us the seats although they just placed their handbags on them. I hardly understand why Hkers agreed to be under China since there is a rising tension between Hkers and mainlanders. Please excuse on my ignorance. Another reason is because Hong Kong is a very small country just like Singapore where land is scarce. While China has a population of more than 1 billion. Singaporeans also feel threatened when 20% of their population is made up of foreign immigrants of China. Let's assume that 10% of China people are coming down to Hong Kong to buy milk powder, well that equals to 100 million people whereas Hong Kong has a population of 7 million. So of courThis is because in a society where resources are limited, people are afraid that their basic rights will be deprived.
That was under the UK administration though. Now we have a Communist Chinese government on the mainland who chooses the government in Hong Kong and who expects Hong Kong citizens to show for their country by blindly following the mainland leaders off a cliff. When immigrants came from Chian in the 1960 and long before that, they left everything behind and came to Hong Kong to assimilate. To mainlanders now, Hong Kong is just a palace to pack ill gotten wealth, or shop. There resist conforming as the generations of the past have done. Your comments are short sighted.
I think she’s telling the truth and the dilemma of HK ppl (at least the businessman) – we want the money and business from the mainland and at the same time we don’t want them to come and destroy our economy. The bad image of the mainland Chinese, being rude, impolite, uneducated, and upstart, has already deeply embedded into the local HK ppl’s mind (it’s not the fault of the media as they are reporting the truth).
I can sense her pride, as seeing herself and other mainland Chinese being the elite in the HK society, between the lines. I can’t agree with that as HK ppl is still very competitive in the work place and school.
The influx of the mainlander Chinese proves that our society is still attractive to them (at least I don’t want to move back and live in the mainland China) and is a preferable place to live and work. HK is, afterall, a city of immigrants in the past and also in the future. We always welcome those who are contributive to our society, but we don’t like those who destroy our city’s social order (no matter they are from mainland China, or those from Africa or South Asia).
They feel they are being discriminated by the local HK ppl. Then please do something that makes us feel that they will bring benefit to our society (not necessarily pecuniary). For example, I am sure the “Mother of Tiananmen” will receive the warmest welcome if they can come to HK.
I arrived in Hong Kong in 1963, when thousands of mainland Chinese were escaping from China and settling in Hong Kong to escape persecution – using the touch base policy to gain residence.
At that time the established Chinese Hong Kong population already settled in Hong Kong during and after the war. . complained about the “ignorant Chinese from the mainland”
Over the next twenty or so years the newly arrived immigrants of the 1960’s and 70’s became established as acclimatized Hong Kongers to the point that in the 1980’s and 90’s they in turn began to complain about the new uncouth arrives from the mainland working as cheap labor and taking their jobs and their ill-mannered attitudes.
Now we have another influx of mainland Chinese – many from much different backgrounds, better educated, and many far better off financially (that in fact display the great strides China has made over the past two decades) But human nature being what it is, the now well established Chinese immigrants of Hong Kong that arrived from China over the past half century are busy complaining . . . that their newly arrived “brothers and sisters” from the mainland are not really one of them . .
And it now seems that the new Chinese arrivals are educated to the point that they are now able to argue back. It just goes to show how fickle we all are as we envy and agitate situations - as we are in fact finding fault with ourselves. Will things never change?
I think it is mainly the kids of the people who are in power in Mainland to steal the money to send the kids to schools abroad who express these silly views. They don't represent Chinese people. They benefit from the kleptocracy that their parents are a part of. If they truly believe in their system, why did this writer not settle back in Shanghai in effort to be part of bringing China out of the mess it is in today? Because she has benefited greatly from the kleptocracy, but she knows that her life and that of her kids will be better in the US.
Her actions belie her words.
I speak from the point of view of someone who is of Hong Kong Chinese background, but has lived in Australia almost all my life and only just recently returned to HK for work. Although the majority are tolerant, few migrants in Aus would not have experienced some form of racism and bigotry at an overt or covert level. A study showed that ethnic minorities need to apply for about 60% more jobs to be successful compared to local white 'aussies'. Now that I am living in HK, it is a peculiar experience for me to be now part of the majority and and not be made to feel like i don't belong here. I fully understand what Joy has experienced, and it is a real shame. It obviously has seriously negatively affected her attitude and outlook. A certain famous speech reminded us of the obvious- that is to treat each other by the content of character rather than by the colour of their skin. In this case, it is even more ludicrous because we are all chinese, and the only real difference is which dialect we speak! Sure, there are tourists who misbehave etc, but don't generalise! I get Aussies who act hostile towards me because they think I'm Japanese! Our actions are not dictated by our appearance, more so by situation. To those who want to blast mainlanders, why don't you spend time getting to know some on a personal level? You will find that in the end, we are all not really that different. We, as human beings have similar wants, desires and aspirations.
and china doesn't have a future without the rest of the world... what a daft thing to say
Why does the author insist on referring to the mainland as Hong Kong's "motherland?" Why do mainlanders hold this fervent neocolonialist obsession?
I do not discriminate against Chinese but this attitude is one thing that really irks me about my mainland friends.
While heading off on a trip to Taipei one guy actually didn't bring his passport to the airport, so obviously there is also an element of massive ignorance.
Joy Yang's article certainly demonstrates her arrogance and does a very good job telling us that because a few of her Hong Kong dorm mates humiliated her 24 years ago she despises all Hong Kongers and now it's pay back time. It's precisely this arrogant and imperialistic mentality that has created animosity between born and raised Hong Kongers and Mainlanders. There's an old Chinese saying that runs to the like of, "When in Rome, do as the Roman's do". What surprises me is that these are Chinese people from China that refuse to abide by the very same saying that they themselves created. Is that not a shame?
To her last question, perhaps regular customers usually speak either Mandarin or Cantonese without an accent. Since she spoke neither at first, this prompt the clerk to ignore her. Also, I've found store clerks in major cities around the world including New York and London to be like that. Many store clerks in luxury brand stores work on commission and if they spent time serving you and you didn't buy anything, it's lost revenue for them because they could have been serving somebody else who could have made a purchase. I'm surprised Joy Yang actually got upset at the store clerk considering she works in finance. She would probably feel the same way the store clerk did if someone shopped a deal she was working on. In fact she might even have a meltdown in front of the client.
Do you call Joy or Angry? If you find yourself not happy living in HK, why don't you go back to mainland china to save the billion of poor people there? If you did not like the HKU tutor & student to search your bag, why did you allow them to do so? You mentioned that they 'asked if they could search it', right? Why did you not call the police or ask them to call police? In HK, we have a well established legal system and anti-discrimination laws. Is it only your perception of discriminating and insulting when someone asked you if there was karaoke in Shanghai and what was the living conditions there? What if your classmate was only curious about Shanghai and was thinking of visit the city and have karaoke? Who is actually talking about money here? Why did you talk about home size with the locals? Home in many parts of HK (Repulse Bay, South Bay, Shek O, the Peak, Sai Kung, etc) could be more than a thousand or even over 3000 square feet. It only depends on how much you can afford. And who works in the financial industry in HK to earn easy money but whining here?
Good luck, economic growth is in decline in China and debt is ballooning. There is so much corruption in China that there is little hope for China to ever come near Hong Kong's level within our life time. Regardless of the righful criticism they recieve when they come here, they still come here to buy our things because they have confidence in our products. Even the Chinese leadership have told their people to behave when abroad.
Without a level playing field or a legal system that people can have confidence in in China, Hong Kong has little to worry about.
As for these students, much of the discrimination is on their behavior not based on the fact that they are Chinese (from China).
And as this Ms. Yang pointed out, if you want to come here, have the right attitude. Most people in Hong Kong do not embrace the communist party. Many of the Chinese associate patriotism to loving "The Party". The Party isn't China.
Miss Yang is an asset to both Hong Kong and People’s Republic of China regardless of what is the reason for her move back to Hong Kong when she could have lived in a developed country like the United States. China will only prosper with many exemplary individuals such as herself.
As an overseas Chinese who was born in Malaysia our family were forced to immigrate to New Zealand for better life. I grew up and spent much of my life in a sleepy country like New Zealand. I now live and work in the United Kingdom so I have first-hand experience living in all these countries as a foreigner and overseas Chinese. I will say that I have felt like a foreigner in all these countries I have lived in.
I have travelled countless number of times to especially Hong Kong, mainland, Macao, and Taiwan. It wasn’t until I have travelled to Republic of China on Taiwan where I felt like home for the very first time in my life. Our founding father and his revolutionaries has fought hard to found Republic of China for us. Our compatriots regardless of whether they are in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao should be helping mainland Chinese to modernise herself in order to create and build a prosperous Chinese Republic. It makes me sad to see the infighting between Hong Kongers and mainlanders or Taiwanese and mainlanders for that matter. We have a choice either we can continue the infighting or work together to create and build a stronger Chinese Republic.
I am a Malaysian Indian. I have traveled to Hong Kong last month so let me share with you my experience of interacting with both Hong Kongers and mainland people. I don't think mainlanders have excellent English skills. I have talked in English to both Hkers and mainland people, I would say Hkers speak better English and their accent is more understandable by others from Southeast Asia countries. In fact, some countries that communicate mainly in English like Singapore and Malaysia, we will find that most of the mainlanders in our countries could barely speak English. This is also judging from my own experience when I was in my undergraduate degree. We didn't like to form a group with China students,mainly because they were lazy and hardly contribute to group assignments. Most of the China students in Malaysia are here just to spend lavishly on their parents' money. They are not so keen in studying. There are many other reasons why people from other countries don't like China people. This primarily has to do with the ill attitudes they brought over with them when they travel to other countries. I can list down all sorts of bad attitudes they show in public. Asian people don't like someone to talk loudly in public. We don't like people to cut the queue and we can't bare to see people eating like animals throwing their food's flesh and bones on the table. Whereas I didn't see any Hkers did this while I was there for 5 nights.
Honestly I do not see any fundamental difference between a mainlander's experience in HK and that of an non-Beijinger in Beijing. The discrimination by the locals is bound to exist in both scenarios.
I too lived in the residence halls at HKU as a foreign exchange student. All I have to say is, my experience there was not pleasant, and neither were the experiences of many other foreign students I knew. The halls have an extremely conformist and close-minded (or maybe it's defensive) culture that makes adaptation to a new city even more difficult than it already is for non-locals. I am absolutely not surprised that Joy Yang had so much conflict there.
I found Hong Kongers outside of those halls much easier to talk to and get along with. People should understand that the restrictive hall culture at HKU is more akin to fraternities in the West than typical dormitories. Actually I know other HK universities are much more open and welcoming to foreigners in their dorms than HKU.
Be fair, Ms Yang's view is largely shared with "non-local" HKers, meaning those spending substantial times in the western world. Local HKers have many problems themselves that are ignored, and "sea turtles" are having trouble to adjust life in HK and assimilate with the locals too.
Through years of propaganda and comparisons with the mainland, HKers developed an unrealistic ego, thinking they are the best people living in the best city on earth. However, in reality, we HKers are arrogant, ignorant, short-sighted, and most importantly, living in our past glory. No one dare to point out our economic prosperity is only built on a shallow ground, ignore the facts that our financial system is very primitive and has an "don't-fix-since-ain't-broke" mentality to deter innovations.
In addition, local HKers might be very smart, but they are only smart at creating shortcuts. They have a lot of ideas, talk about them and complain about what are wrong loudly, but only anonymously or behind the back, which are not useful to any companies. They, in general, are afraid and super unwilling to take responsibilities, like the "Black Rain" yesterday, we all see how many took the full 2-hour advantages to show up to work and then left for lunch immediately.
At the end, to all the mainlanders, all the HK haters are merely those struggled with life and didn't know the survival rules in a financial center, and I am sure Ms. Yang and others know many HKers who respect them.
To answer Ms. Yang's question, depends to whom & at where you're speaking. For example, if you're leisurely browsing in a posh luxury brand boutique in Central or Causeway Bay, you should make full use of that distinctive Shanghai (or even Wenzhou) accented Putonghua to receive better service & delivery. On the other hand, if you're just shopping for groceries & everyday household items at Park 'N Shop & Wellcome, use the local dialect & slang so they won't mumur about the shortage of milk powder etc.
When in Rome ... Get my drift ...?
I think mainlanders' reputation has been seriously damaged by the many incidents involving expectant mothers coming to HK hospitals, milk powder, the lady eating on the subway etc, National Education etc. These incidents will only worsen local attitudes to mainlanders and there will be no sympathy. I think the issue needs more than simply asking locals to be more tolerant and just 'get used to it'. Mutual respect. Respect for Hong Kong, its language and culture; and respect for those newcomers who arrive hoping for a better future.
Joy Yang I am a Indian and call HK my home.Paid taxes all the time .Yet your country people comes here have a baby and apply for social welfares. This is the most sad part and we never know that there is the social welfare money for single mums or marrying an old man .When he dies the woman form china ask for one and everything form the HK govt. We the HK people use to say 'if you work hard there is always a job for you' WHICH now the people form china have taken form us .The pay is say 3000 but the mainland woman will do it for 2000 dollars. Think how we feel .These are just a few of them .We have to wait for years to get a govt pulbic house but your mainlanders just come and have it within months ..How will the HK people like it .Same if we go to your country and we have all this before those who have been there and calling it they home and country . Take two hands to clap. Lucky girl you are ....thanks
Your questions clearly show you don't understand the makeup of young adults. Like any 18-year old, Ms. Yang was sensitive to peer reprobation and approbation. Such sensibilities often expose their vulnerability and knee-jerk subjugation to group bullying, hazing and other sadistic rituals.
Perhaps you are unaware; you have inadvertently exhibited a trace of herd behavior characteristic common to all lynch mobs.
When you brag about HK 3000-square-foot flat, you betray both ignorance and inferiority complex so typical of today's Hong Kongers. Many of our poor brethren live in caged homes and subdivided flats.
Hong Kong flats are small because of the misguided land policy inherited from the British. Generally, average flat size in Shanghai and Singapore is 2 or 3 times ours. Our store of wealth goes mostly into the roof over our head. Living in a 50-million dollar flat at Repulse Bay may mean less disposable income and less security in old age. It will take much time and overhead costs to sell property in a down market.
Disputations with mainlanders may make you feel good; reading Chinese classics to learn about the dignity of a human being – yes, I modify here the sexist “Man” – will make you a better person than mindless zombies led by clueless charlatans chanting Occupy Central and Hong Kong Core Values.
Ms. Yang demonstrated true grit and self-reliance. If this is all I have to judge her with, I would be extremely proud were she my daughter.
The writer demonstrated average mainlanders cocky attitude. They can never identify their shortcomings. Not only HKer resent them, they have successfully anger Singaporean and even Thai. Being humble is just not in PRC Chinese genes.
All in all, judging now the comments, HKners, particulary the youth and younger Generation of HK are spoiled, have lack of vision and do not know what hard work is. All what they care about is - well, the trend and fun they get from entertainment and society and no will to give something back.
They get angry when people appear, from the same kind but from somewhere else, from former poor place where they used to look down upon them, showing that they achieved more and are better educated than them. Showing them what a failure they are. Yes, that hurts.
There is no right or wrong. I used to live in Beijing. People will give way to me because I am the Mrs. The outsiders (like us), knowing they behave more gracefully, know in no time that they're special. But maids would criticize me over my face saying: 'She's from Hong Kong and she doesn't know Chinese" when they chat with friends (at the playroom). They also look down on me because I raised my own children (since well to do Mrs. has ayis to handle everything and the teaching/ coaching part will be left to tutors). Locals will laugh when I say I am Chinese. When I buy vegetables in wet market and I have to pay even more than I paid in upscale grocery store (because they know I am different from my apparel). And I know if I were raped by a Caucasian someone will tell me to go home and close the case.
This is what I've found out: if one can't adapt to a foreign place, leave. I've lived in 4 major cities in my life with 3 of them more than 5 years. I can't say Beijing has brought me no fortune, but also to the expense of other qualities of life. But the least I can do is not to make a fool out of myself. So I don't whine.
I studied at CUHK (as an exchange student) at the same time Ms Yang was at HKU. I found myself hanging out largely with friends drawn from the small batch of students from the mainland.
There was definitely a degree of discrimination, though as an outsider I could hardly understand why. The students from the mainland seemed to me more polite, intelligent and interesting. Even back then, their English language skills were often superior to Hong Kong students (which definitely made our friendships easier). I never witnessed discrimination as blatant as what Ms Yang describes, but there was a lot of talking behind peoples' backs. After nine months of living together my roommate confided to me that he was originally from the mainland -- as if this was some kind of scandal to be ashamed of.
Many of these students remained in HK after graduation. Many more talented mainlanders have since joined them. This is undoubtedly a good thing for Hong Kong.
Nonetheless nowadays I understand and sympathize with HKers' antipathy towards the mainland and mainlanders. At the time of the handover everyone (including the central government) understood that mainlanders' access to Hong Kong would have to be severely restricted in order to avoid a stampede that would render the city unlivable. Now the stampede has come and HK has been reduced to a polluted, overcrowded shopping mall, with little chance of change thanks to entrenched business interests and an unaccountable government.
Ms. Yang, I enjoy reading your piece.
I started college in the US in 1958. The campus had an international atmosphere. I experienced no discrimination. Occasional condescension, yes.
I am ashamed of Hong Kong youths treated you so shabbily. We don't deserve the World City moniker when our behavior is no better than the US backwaters, the Confederate states in the 60s.
Of course, you are a compatriot. Your talents and perseverance are now in short supply in HK. Yes, you are an asset.
As for youthful "misbehavior" and abrasiveness grown out of a defense mechanism instinct against ostracism, I can understand.
I grew up with Romance of Three Kingdoms, Analects, Dreams of red Chamber, etc. Our HK children don't read that stuff any more. That's why they don't have a Chinese soul or identity.
Worse, our town is replete with incompetent academics 流口水博士 and pseudo intellectuals who are Democracy missionaries. Their shallowness in Western and Chinese culture is at the root of HK inferiority complex. Democracy has become a religion. HK believers are totally ignorant of enlightenment ideas of Locke and Hume that midwifed American democracy. Their be-all-end-all deity is universal suffrage, which can be linked to just about every dysfunctional governance today.
Even worse than the West, HKers don't have the foggiest about normative economics essential for national survival.
China is still a mess. Everything takes time. But we have a due process in place that chooses good leaders.
oh please, shake out your stereotypes and think. Yes, it is reasonable that you might suspect Ms. Yang has a strong family connection to get her into HKU and UCLA, but c'mon, she must be super strong academically and has superior presentation and interviews skills in order to land that IMF job in Washington DC. East cost companies don't recruit from west coast schools that much, and especially, after all, it is "only" UCLA.
You can't disregard her merit just like that. There are smart people coming from rich family and this calls genetics.
live with it ...even hongkies locals get discriminated by whites here in hk
It's an ugly contest between the prejudiced HKers and some uncouth Mainlanders. The truth is that most HKers are tolerant and most Mainlanders are civilised. It's the bigots in our midst and the irresponsible press that have been inciting hatred. So much so that the government caved in and introduced the baby formula legislation! That brought HK into disrepute amongst our compatriots. Ms. Yang, I hope your exposure to various cultures has enlightened you into becoming a good world citizen!! Welcome to HK again!
Quote: "After all, one is selected from a population of 1.4 billion and the other is from a population of seven million. Even though universities are supposed to be a place for fair competition, it is understandable why many Hong Kong students dislike their mainland peers."
“and after, all the mainland students rushed to socialise with the speaker, handed in their resumes and asked for internship opportunities, while many local students just hid themselves in the back rows.”
Comments: Many Hong Kong people doubt that the success of the mainland students comes from the background of their super parents or uncles instead of they are selected from a population of 1.4 billion. I am very interested to know more about the background of the author. It is good if the author can share some success stories of mainland students without a strong family background.
Many Hong Kong students have been fighting hard with mainland students for offers in investment banks or top tier financial institutions. Although we have a lot of Hong Kong students coming from middle-class family, but we doubt that the value is minimal compared with the power of mainland students' family background. I do want to remind mainland students not to underestimate the potential of Hong Kong students. Confronted with the challenges (no matter it is fair or not), Hong Kong students can only find their own ways to differentiate themselves in order to survive.
Many thanks for Ms Yang to voice her opinions on the issues between HKers and Mainlanders. It is very courageous of her to have done that. There are hidden prejudice and racism in HK, rather widespread but locals do not realize. The root of the problem is the media [may be i should be more specifc in saying it is the Chinese newspapers], and I can see the situation getting worse but not for the better. Fruity journalism is fueling hatred and bias every day, but nobody is doing anything about it. In Singapore, the Govt would have stepped in and sued these irresponsible journalists, but the GovHK is always hiding at the back.
I am neither Chinese or Hkers, but wouldn't be fair to say that while Chinese visit the little Hong Kong, Hong Kong always think that they are visited by little rude Chinese? I think the real issue as mentionned in the article is that Hong Kong has much much better, hospital, universities and food safety and now has the pressure of 1,4 billion people who would like to get access to it. At some point Hong kong has to protect its resources for its residents.
Is that a case of two wrongs making a right? Or are you happy to live in a place where people treat each other with insensitivity and intolerance?
"the salesperson’s face went dark. She asked angrily: “Why you don’t buy?" and this girl comes from UCLA and even lived in the US.
i've got nothing to say about the way the HK students react in seminars but is it the truth that "even speak better English than many local students."? Posters have never been written in Simplified Chinese years ago across the universities and myself would wonder if this article is come from a secondary school student if i didnt notice the writer's background, based on the vocab and the writing style used.
Lainy: Your point seems self-evident. Instead of seizing the day and redoubling efforts when the going gets tough, Hong Kong youths resort to badmouthing mainlanders and scapegoating China.
Why do mainland students write and speak better English? May be 2 large sample examples will suffice.
I visit St. Martin in the Caribbean for rest and recreation twice a year. Many Indians there are in the jewelry business catering to tourists. The Chinese are recent immigrants. With meager financial resources and knowhow, they gravitate into the small grocery business. Everyone I meet seems to hail from 恩平 prefecture. I was so overjoyed when I first found that I could converse with them in Cantonese and Putonghua. Of course, they speak perfect Taishanese and better English than our Scholarism brats. These folks never reach the 高考 level. Tell us why their language skills are better than demonstrators from our local tertiary institutions?
My academic friends in the best US universities rave about Chinese graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. It’s hard for me to explain how overwhelming some Chinese talents are at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia. Except for a privileged few like Bo Gua Gua majoring in soft and fluffy government studies at Harvard, they earned their fellowships solely on merit. Yet a few readers here see fit to cast aspersions on everyone from the mainland, including our very own geniuses.
Dear Joy,
First of all, welcome to HK! I enjoyed reading your article very much.
I can see that now you have become a real international citizen being much more well-travelled and well-exposed, you have more civility than most Mainland Chinese. Hence, you will adapt more easily and welcome by other cultures as well.
Perhaps, you will be a great ambassador to go back to China to enhance the general population on social etiquette and civil public behavior. Currently, most Mainland Chinese believe having money allows them being uncivilized, aloof and arrogant. For example: never like to queue; spitting in public (especially in swimming pools in hotels), squatting, speak loudly in public, places they graced upon turned dirty instantly........Yes so what if one has money!
Imagine if Mainland Chinese people behave with more civility than today, with such a huge talent pool there, the nation will achieve even more than today and with more respect worldwide! The whole world is hoping China will flourish and flourish well. Today there is still a wide gap with etiquette and civility in China and HK is loosing its grip as well due to the cross-border influence. I am doing my share here in HK to exemplify good etiquette and civility in public to students and the corporate world.
Joy, you have the right ingredient to be influential in this area. Make use of it!
That's correct Joy. Why don't you move back to China and set a good example for your compatriots. Every journey starts with one step. You need to take this first step!
Well written Joy and thanks for sharing your experience............everything in HK is about money and the local people here are just as bad as the criticisms they have about the mainland.........I can't wait till China continues to grow into a powerful and influential country and eventually "swallow up" this little piece of past colonial place called HK.
The discrimination against Chinese mainlanders began a decade ago at least as told that took place in student dormitory at Hong Kong University. The mainland student must have lived there for at least more than a year and yet there was no action being taken by the university except sided with the offenders and performed an illegal search of one’s personal belongings in the dorm. If high civil behavior couldn’t be had even from the future pillars or the higher learning institution we shouldn’t be puzzled by the intolerance in the streets by the masses in Hong Kong towards the mainlanders.
Being a local Hongkonger, I dislike the mainlanders because they bully Hong Kong just because of their sizeable market and huge population (definitely our HK government has used some wrong ways to handle with China government). The mainlanders will oppress you once they know that you are not as wealthy as they are (or your house is not as large as theirs). And they don't know what is "Respect" and "Humbleness". I used to love China in the past (at least 10 years ago) because their people were simple and kind. But after miniority of their people became rich, other people become very desperate for money and power. I believe that China government has to make some efforts in educating their people and changing their system to gain others' respect but not merely because of their huge market and money.
Where she gets lost in her argument is that we watch Mainlanders go abroad and study...they go to places where freedom of speech, free thinking, academic freedom, inelleectual discourse and the free flow of information and ideas play such a big role in those country's sucess, incluidng Hong Kong.
Yet, mainlanders have been so brainwashed, and do not even realize it that despite this foriegn education they will continue to buck these ideas in support of what the CCP has been telling them for decades. Your average Mainland student is more linkely to look at my previous sentence and argue Hong Kong is part of China and not a country, than to agreee with me.
The fact of the matter is, over the years, Hong Kong has thrived because of the system the CCP labels as foreign, imperialist and not appropriate for China. Yes, there are nearly 1.4 billion people in China, who have all been taught that Hong Kong's ways, its freedoms and its rule of laws are unacceptabel and not appropriate for China, which makes them believe that as part of China, Hong Kong should conform to Mainland ways. The presence of more and more Mainlanders puts fear in the minds of Hong Kongers that they way of life is thus threatend and will eventually return to the unacceptable way things are accomplished in the Mainland.
I am very appreciated from the sharing of Ms. Yang. I am a local university student now. To be honest, one of the reasons that we don't like mainlanders is that they "steals" our As in many courses. However, I don't think it is the main reason. The main reason that we dislike mainlanders is that we hear different news about mainlanders did in HK everyday. For example, they excrete on the main street in HK and they always speak loudly on the MTR on in a resturant. It is their behaviour that we HKers dislike. Are these the culture of Mainland China?
The point is to treat each other for what they do and who they are, not to prejudge based on stereotypes. If you meet a mainlander, don't assume they all have no manners and use Causeway Bay as their bathroom. At my workplace, I know 3 mainland chinese who are incredibly intelligent, doing medical research that is going to be presented at international conferences that may one day save your life. Get to know them, see what kind of a person they are like. Awful people come in all sorts of races and creeds. This is self evident, but easily forgotten
Dailoh, you are waaaay missing the point! Leave aside your display of ignorance about the wave of (temporary) migration to Canada, Australia and elsewhere that followed the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Which part of "one country" and the significance of July 1, 2047 are you not clear on? Unless you are nearing retirement or planning on leaving yourself it may be worth your while to take a different attitude because you are not the one driving the bus here.
This is Hong Kong... :D $$$$$ :p
aammyy.w needs to reread the article before criticizing on the author's writing skills. I doubt she'd ever been to the US or left Hong Kong. Her comments are not insightful nor grammatically correct.
"the salesperson’s face went dark. She asked angrily: “Why you don’t buy?" and this girl comes from UCLA and even lived in the US.
- The author was referring to the customer service representative and how she was treated by the aforesaid person.
i've got nothing to say about the way the HK students react in seminars but is it the truth that "even speak better English than many local students."? Posters have never been written in Simplified Chinese years ago across the universities and myself would wonder if this article is come from a secondary school student if i didnt notice the writer's background, based on the vocab and the writing style used.
- What the author is somewhat true. I'm from New York and have know many people originally from the mainland. Students from the mainland usually strive to blend into the culture of the host nation they are in to learn and and gain knowledge. Their determination to master the English language, verbally and in written form, is often higher than many others originally from Hong Kong.
The issue of intercultural acceptance is not a well established concept in the Chinese and Hong Kong culture. The Hukou system in Chinese makes it even worse. Afer the Mainland takeover, the English standard and education declined substainally. Schools have to cater to teach Putonghua. Young kids are having trouble managing Putonghoua, English and Cantonese at the same time. They mastered none and turned inward. They studied just to passed examinations and few are train to think and ask questions. As for the adults, most of them feel like they are living under occupation by a corrupt Communist regime. if they are not borned into a connected family, their lives are doomed. When the gap between the rich and the poor are expanding, one will see the more conflicts.
"HK has always been a wide open, anything goes, every man for himself, survival of the fittest, do it to him before he does it to you, better him than me, kind of society. The worst of the west and east without the good from either side. You may blame it on too many people chasing after too few resources, snobbish mercenary worship, extortionist, expropriatory, colonial conditioning or whatever. But the sad thing is people totally wallow in it, without realizing it's insane, and peremptorily reject any redeeming national education."
An old schoolmate resettled in Hong Kong after studying and working in the US for decades. He disagrees with me on US discrimination and praises mainlanders. Eat your heart out, China haters!
"I have to rebut on 2 points. In my undergrad days, in summers, when the dorms closed, I could not rent a room in Boston/Cambridge. I would call and agree to a price. My accent was not identifiably 'alien'. When I showed up in person, it's always " we've just rented it out! " or " you heard me wrong. It's $30 a week, not $13 !". So we ended up staying every summer in a prof's house, doing maintenance work in exchange for rent, while his family is away in the cottage. Even when we moved to San Jose in 1969 to work for IBM, the Chinese old lady real estate agent told us we cannot buy a house in many neighborhoods. When we bought in Los Altos in 1980, we were the first and only Asian family in the area. Was South Bay / Silicon Valley more provincial or prejudiced than NJ /NY ?
China is not a mess. It is extremely orderly, harmonious and safe. People, especially the younger generation, are very well cultivated in Chinese values. In a few dozen visits to Shenzhen, we've personally experienced kindnesses and considerate respect we never dreamt of in 70+ years in HK. Ask me and I'll describe some cases to you!
Some readers demonstrating limited language skills in these pages criticized the author's usage of English should reread what they wrote - and I don't mean just simple typos or spelling. But English is hardly the point. Most readers here write passable English.
I don't know why someone brought up the subject of spoken English. George W. Bush, Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin were respectively president, vice president and VP candidate. None of them could speak logically, although Palin could talk claptrap at a mile a minute. Need I remind you they are all native English speakers?
The high and the mighty in democracies that folks look up to often possess meager functioning vocabularies and are often incapable of writing a decent college level essay. Faithful of Democracy religion please take note. Charlatans and nitwits often win in populist elections.
Many of the anecdotes, observations and opinions expressed here are both interesting and challenging. But they come with prepackaged provincialism, nuanced racism, self-destructive envious resentment and ideological hate. A commentator is easily deluded into thinking that he is preaching to a choir which answers every high point in the sermon with an Amen.
Here is the caveat emptor. For those here finding another writer speaking your mind, including yours truly, the person you agree with so readily may be doing all the thinking for you.
In that case, get yourself dressed up for Benny Tai’s Occupy Central and July 1 hate fest.
You liked them coz you were superior to the mainlanders, then. You liked them because they looked up to you at that time and now you dislike them coz now you are FORCED to look up to them because somehow you are dependent on the mainland ( your work , your business, cheap products /services you can afford etc..)
Judging the comment below I must say. You still do not understand. Sad but true.
Jealousy leads to hate and hate leads to discrimination. And to explain their obvious discrimination, even they know that this is wrong, they accuse all the Mainland Chinese of being member of a corrupt family - or just communist - so no need to think about 'wrong or right how to treat them. That is much more easier for them to live with and keep their mind in peace. Otherwise they would see that they are actually the bad guys here. For me as an old Hongkonese i can only explain this with inherit "discrimination". The Brits and Foreigners had discrimininated them before. Now they do the same to the Mainlanders. And most of them are too young to know how the Colonial Lords treated the HKnese in "good old times". Otherwise, they would be ashamed of themselve.
Speaking loudly in the restaurant?
Ever went to a restaurant populated by HK people speaking Cantonese?
The first time I did, I thought they are going to kill each other soon, such heated was their argument.
I really hope that you can see my reply. I lived in Beijing before. I know how China is. If you don't like it here, go back. Just as I won't complain about Beijing because I know my purpose of stay.
My mother gave me up 100 years ago. My step mother teaches me manners and laws and order. Where were you? And what are you? You're still up at 5:10AM because you're a just a complainer, can't sleep?
Most of my family already left Hong Kong. Right now, almost 1/3 of Hong Kong people are not those original Hong Kong people.
Hi,, MS. Joy Yang,
You have a very right and mature attitude towards life, you have a positive thinking in handling your life. Bravo, keep it up and you will do well any where you go in this world.
evelynhoyl: There is no guaranteed validity for all published economic figures. Statistical methods only state a range with specified "level of confidence." Writers in the media seldom understand this.
Therefore, one weighs the "reliability" of information by sources. World Bank, IMF and the US Fed have tons of top flight economists whose opinions are worth debating rather than dismissed. Scientific cross-checking is the only way to get at the truth, which may offend your bias.
To get a flavor on how to offer an educated opinion, read my series of comments arbitrating a debate between Tom Holland and Jake van der Kamp in SCMP. I wrote those 1500-character pieces at college level.
Like most, I am often wrong when I don't exercise care screening out spurious sources. So you must tell me why perhaps your information is more reliable. I will for sure benefit from your fact based opinion. None of us will learn anything from "I-said-he-said" defensive rationalizations 狡辯.
China has gone from over 90% agricultural society to the present 52% urban population. She is not yet middle class, let alone rich, by OECD standards. However, her economic progress has been miraculous.
Mao saved China. But he was economics illiterate. Present meritocracy in leadership is a promising alternative to dysfunctional democracies.
Whereas my skills are imported, my core values are Ch
Whymak: 'the World Bank pegs China's homeless at 29.27 million in 2001, a miraculous decline from 250 million in 1978.'
How valid was the poverty assessment in China? By extracting a few words from the report means nothing.
According to the World Bank report, the international standard is somewhat less severe than China's official poverty line, it indicates greater numbers of poor in all years, and that by end-1998 a much larger share of the rural population - about 11.5 percent or some 106 million people -remained in poverty in China, especially the western provinces. The poverty rate is still around 10% in China now. The World Bank has suggested to adopt the international standard for a more appropriate measure of poverty to guide the government's poverty reduction program in the next century. But of course, the target to eradicate US$1.75/day poverty by 2030 as promised by world bank YK Jim would be great. But a piece of bread that already cost more than US$2 could not really help much, not to mention the cost of a shelter.
Ms. Yang pointed out rightly that the local media have been fanning the prejudicial fire! I don't know whether the low quality of the populace is the cause or the effect of such a low standard of journalism. BTW, welcome to HK, Ms. Yang!
18-year old is legal adult age and should be smart enough to make good decisions. Would an 18-year old not able to say no when a senior authority asked you to take off your pants?
The average size of flats in HK is 45 sq.m. Average new public apartment 60 sq.m. Average new private 70 sq.m. It's not spacious but not badly cramped, especially if you travel most of the time and stay late outdoor in HK. In comparable to a hotel room, a small apartment is much cheaper. Considering the lifestyle in HK, most people use the apartment to sleep, prepare simple meals and shower. Family and friends gatherings usually take place in restaurants, gardens, countryside and private clubs.
Over 200 million people (1.5% of total population) living in China are homeless. In HK, over 1000 (0.01%) are homeless. Only 1.4% (100000 out of 7m) people in HK live in coffin, cage homes and rooftops.
Talking about reflection and positive means to see the world from another perspectives do not equal to 'disputations with mainlanders'. Using the nasty words 'lynch mob', 'mindless zombies' to attack freedom of expression did not proof you have any dignity or integrity.
If the schizophrenic parent refuses to get treatment or take his medication regularly, the children have the right to stay away from the parent. The parent is not at fault for having a mental illness and being different; however, the safety of the children must be taken into consideration when a parent suffers from schizophrenia.
I agree with Joy, it is all about money with hong kong, always has been, always will be. I am from Australia but recently went back home in December and walking into many shops, i was surprised that many shop assistants thought i was from the mainland even though i've lived overseas for more than 20 years. I think the local impression is that mainlanders = money and americans/westerners = tourists. This became more evident once i started speaking english to them and or cantonese. Hong kong people should be proud of the fact that they have a much better social welfare and cultural society/freedom of expression than the mainland. China will learn from this one day and eventually when both societies are equal then this type of discrimination wont exist, after all competition only exists when resources are scarce or unobtainable. As Einstein said, current problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that existed when the original problems were first created. Mainland China still has a lot to learn and hong kong cannot give up teaching that or chinese people will suffer as a whole. Persistance, Perserverance and Piety.
slchoong: Just to temper your enthusiasm a bit. I wrote a rebuttal earlier to a Taiwanese elsewhere in this paper:
So you are just another Chen Shiubin diehard.

Three decades ago, Taiwan Chinese were impoverished. Be they mainlanders or Minan-speaking "locals," all they could dream about was emigrate to the US. As the satirist Bor Yang 柏楊 puts it, "to live out the rest of their pathetic lives in the US, 在美國了此殘生.”

One aberration developed by independence-minded Taiwanese is to disown their Chinese ethnicity as they become rich. But this is what Chinese people find most despicable. Among the Chinese, we seldom disown our parents because they are poor.

Aren’t Hong Kong Democracy believers just like this Taiwanese?
All the infighting are caused by the media who posts actions of one rude person and then label a billion other people as the same. The education system in HK no longer teaches people to think and evaluate each situation on its own but to be lazy and use generalization and stereotypes. The conspiracy theorist in me is that these actions by the media are controlled by local politicians who are always trying to push for elections so they can get into power; they are no different than power hungry dictators, only they use brain washing through the media rather than bullets.
Reader tajinderkaur, it's hard to find a Malaysian racist. Perhaps you're an exception.
You say Chinese students are lazy. For your information, the ratio of Chinese student body to Chinese population in elite US high schools and universities is vastly out of proportion compared to other ethnic groups. Mainland graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are welcomed by Princeton, Berkeley and MIT because they are some of the world's best researchers.
Malaysia has Bumiputra policy favoring their own kind. Malaysian Chinese have no political power. Tell me, which ethnic group contributes the overwhelming majority to the professional and educated class in your country?
Ms. Yang hails from Shanghai. Are you aware that of all OECD countries participating in PISA test, Shanghai 15-year olds come out head and shoulders above every country in every subject: reading comprehension, math and science? A scientific selected sample out of 20 million must mean something. Do you think you can measure up? This year all China, including the rural areas, will participate in this international test. So stay tuned. That's why I say Ms. Yang is an asset to Hong Kong.
Before you criticize Chinese people's English, I suggest you reread what you wrote. Someone might conclude my Hong Kong grandnephew at 6th grade could write better English than an SCMP reader with a college degree from Timbuktu University.
I call on the Hong Kong University here again to apologize to all students especially to those from mainland for being delinquent on caring their wellbeing while being bullied by its local students. Tell us what policy is or will be in place that such oversight wouldn’t be repeated. The silence by the Hong Kong University is a further disgrace as a place for higher learning.
There are many things wrong both sides of the border.
Shall we start with HK?
All industry is moved to the mainland because it is easier there to bribe local government to circumvent environmental law. As a result all the air pollution created by HK-owned factories in the pearl delta is blown to Hong Kong, when there is a typhoon or low-pressure system into the mainland east of Hong Kong (the winds move counter-clockwise).
Hong Kong business people do not care about Hong Kong at all. They only care about money. If they had their way there wouldn't be any country parks, mountains or water falls in Hong Kong, just residential buildings, office buildings and shopping malls. It was HK business people who razed all the hills in Shenzhen to build, build, build.
The first CEO oof Hong Kong after the handover was Tung Chee Hwa, a Taiwanese-HongKong businessman with good connections to Shanghai businessmen and the Chinese governmeent which at that time was recruited from Shanghai. They do not care about HK people at all.
Their opinion about expats: do not mess with us, make your money and go home.
The current real estate bubble in HK is an extension of the 1994 bubble and the 1997 crash.
1994 mainlanders came over to launder their bribes. A boyfriend told me his parents suddenly got rich, mainlanders paid luggage full of cash forr their properties. The prices rose and HK people joined and created a bubble. 1997 the foreigners and g a y s left and the market chrashed.
After the property crash many people had more debts than their property was worth. They could live in it, but they couldn't sell it. If they had property in which they didn't live themselves, they lost money daily, because the rent was lower than the interest they had to pay.
So, their aim was to raise the property price to such a level where they can get out safely.
That's where we are now. With some peeople at least. Make no mistake, there are always people willing to create a new bubble, forgetting the last crash. Dreaming of getting rich and getting out in time.
The Hong Kong government is pretty useless.
Whereas governors on the mainland put the interest of their province before the interest of Beijing, the HK government always puts Beijing's interests before HK's interest. It's an endless kowtow. And naturally, Beijing only approves yes sayers for the top HK post.
Instead of getting manufacturing back into Hong Kong, focussing on renewable energy, harnessing the sun and the wind, recycling the sewage and other waste into resources, HK is turned into a giant theme park and retail center, with poor people swept aside, their dai pai dangs in the city center closed because they are unsightly.
Kowtow before the mainlanders to get money.
The restaurants, bars, coffee shops, convenience stores in Canton Road (TST) have been replaced by banks, jewellery shops and brand name fashion shops most frequented by mainlanders.
There are so many issues and animositiees, left over from the past.
There is the Great Leap Forward they parents of HK people had to flee from, or where their grandparents died.
There are the privileged mainlanders.
Overseas Chinese who are the most fervent nationalists but have no desire to live on their beloved mainland.
There is June 4, 1989, commemorated in Hong Kong, unknown on the mainland.
Young mainlanders of today who are as proud of their motherland as the young red guards of mao, who returned China to the stone age.
There is that 5000 year old culture of retching and spitting everywhere.
Have you ever seen mainlanders spitting bones onto plush carpets of restaurants in 5 star hotels and wondered why they do that? Whether they'd do that at their own home, too?
If you are Chinese, have you ever wondered why a westerner would find something wrong with that?
Shall I mention the racism in China and Hong Kong alike?
Their worship of the white skin and their disdain for the dark skin?
Chinese in general are hostile towards anyone outside of their clan. They clean their house up to the door, but the street in front of their house looks like a rubbish dump. You have rats running in high rise buildings in the mainland. I have seen rats in restaurants and discos. And cockroaches everywhere.
The airport at Chek Lap Kok swarmed with rats and was so dirty at it's opening day, that the photosensors didn't work, creating chaos for the luggage handling.
Mainlanders tend to be more focused in showing grit to achieve their goals... it's just the means to get to the ends rub some people up the wrong way. Still it's a quality I admire.
Compared to the lackadaisical Hong Kong youth of today, who are addicted to their smartphones, mesmerised by Facebook, taking incessant shots of their food and glued to the latest game "Candy Rush" everywhere, it makes one wonder whether they have the attention span to concentrate and get things done to succeed in life. They should not whine the mainland youth are out-competing them when called to "step-up" to the plate.
They should reflect on their parents and grandparents values which catapulted Hong Kong into the world's paramount "can do" economy.
After a decade, horrid experiences at Hong Kong University by mainland students finally are out in the open. The public is waiting for the university to respond. What follow up should it take?
Ms Yang may have sacrificed her own well-being while living and working in Hong Kong to become a ‘whistle-blower’. Hong Kong’s mostly movers and shakers are connected with that institute.
Big chip.
Some possible reasons why HK people are very defensive towards "Mainlanders".
HK People travelling by bus from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, were robbed on the highway by friends of the bus driver. After that HK people always said, they want to go to Shenzhen.
In 1994 mainlanders came over to Hong Kong and paid millions in cash for HK properties. The price shot through the roof.
Now, more mainlanders come over and dump their cash into real estate. 30 year old HKers can't afford to live in their own home anymore and still stay with their parents.
In the mainland I meet a few guys in their 30s who owned two or more apartments.
Mainland businessmen employ poor people, usually foreign domestic helpers to carry mountains of cash from China to Hong Kong, so they can re-invest it into China as foreign direct investment, enjoying tax breaks. They don't run much risks. While the domestic helpers could lose their jobs and livelyhood if caught.
And well, the parents and grandparents of the HK youth were just the same as the recent mainland immigrants. They peed on the street and didn't know how to use escalators.
LOL. This is very familiar.
A few weeks after I came to HK as a young western man, the story of Jeffrey Dahmer broke in the news.
So, naturally, when the staircase in the high rise building smelled awfully one day after some decaying matter, the bell rung and I found a group of residents asking to search my apartment. I laughed at them and closed the door in their face.
A short time later there was police and asked to be let in (without a warrant). I let them in. There was no smell whatsoever, as one of the first things I did was making sure the stairwell smell of rotten rats and stinking tofu couldn't enter my flat.
Local people everywhere are suspicious about strangers. That's nothing new.
The worst are the upstarts and recent immigrants.
Wherever I move I do not pay attention to them. I see it like this: As a foreigner I can only find a job there legally, because the employer cannot find local talent.

No doubt that many overseas educated mainlanders choose to come back to HK for more money than what they could earn if they stay overseas or go back to the Mainland. No doubt that many of them earn a premium salary in US or foreign financial firms operating in HK for their PRC background presumably (and hopefully) conducive to their firm's fortune. No doubt that they should feel pride in themselves for having successfully climbed up the economic scale leaving behind all the contempt and misery they may once have had before leaving the Mainland. No doubt that many of them think themselves belong to the elite expatriate group distinguished from the locals. As such, what is the point talking about living as a mainland Chinese in Hong Kong? Hong Kong unfortunately is already very crowded and can afford less such non-Hong-Kong-originated overseas returnees who come for money and become esteem-coveting turned egotist.
read your own writing before criticizing anybody else. such a joke
You should read the whole report from World Bank and check out the poverty line defined by China. Meritocracy is only one of the million entry requirement for a leader. For a good leader, he or she should be able to build a safe and peaceful country.
There is no guaranteed validity for all published economic figures. Statistical methods only state a range with specified "level of confidence." Writers in the media seldom understand this.
Therefore, one weighs the "reliability" of information by sources. World Bank, IMF, US Fed have tons of top flight economists whose opinions are worth debating rather than dismissed. Scientific cross-checking is the only way to get at the truth, which may offend your bias.
To get a flavor on how to offer an educated opinion, read my series of comments arbitrating a debate between Tom Holland and Jake van der Kamp in SCMP. I wrote those 1500-character pieces at college level.
Like most, I am often wrong when I don't exercise care screening out spurious sources. So you must tell me why perhaps your information is more reliable. I will for sure benefit from your fact based opinion. None of us will learn anything from "I-said-he-said" defensive rationalizations 狡辯.
China has gone from over 90% agricultural society to the present 52% urban population. She is not yet middle class, let alone rich, by OECD standards. However, her economic progress has been miraculous.
Mao saved China. But he was economics illiterate. Present meritocracy in leadership is a promising alternative to dysfunctional democracies.
While my skills are imported, my core values are all Chinese.
A whistle blower seldom would get sympathy. As days go by, more and more of the comments are against Yang’s revelation about her bad treatment at HKU. As I had pointed out earlier, she is at risk for whistle blow on HKU. In a place until most recently where no one tell tale on others and holding HKU as the elitist, Yang is seen as an outsider for breaking the unspoken rules. At such she should either skip town or persevere till she can beat the culture in Hong Kong. I still think she is making a sacrifice as most whistle blowers do to tangle with the truth or the wolves.
Hong Kong University began long ago to train local Chinese in English ability in order to assist the colonial government ruling Hong Kong. Ever since it is looked upon as an elite while no others which only came along much later to be allowed as equal. With big salary remuneration, Hong Kong University has had drawn good teachers and raised its profile internationally. The unfortunate aspect of its development has been the unequal improvement in its student body which had been for years reported in the news. English proficiency of its new incoming students or instructors was less than desirable. While we not lament that HKU has become more accessible the revelation of poor treatments of fellow mainland students is most regrettable. The fund raising for an ad calling to stop ‘mainlandization’ by some of its students perhaps is more in telling the world than just to the mainlanders that HKU doesn’t deserve the international reputation it has enjoyed. HKU is as provincial as its beginning with it administration just standing by in silence.
Evelynhoyl: "Would an 18-year old not able to say no when a senior authority asked you to take off your pants?"
I taught elements of symbolic logic in my freshman physical science course. Such irrelevancy in a college debate would have earned you an F.
You are fast and loose with facts. Apparently, you read only newspapers, which are written at 8th grade reading level. HKU researchers estimate 171,000 HKer's live in subdivided flats but not 100,000 bandied about in the media. Moreover, the World Bank pegs China's homeless at 29.27 million in 2001, a miraculous decline from 250 million in 1978.
As recently as late 1980's, China was poorer than India. In the 50s when I grew up, HK was as poor as Sri Lanka – formerly Ceylon. We Chinese have come a long way.
I love HK warts and all. I would never trade our city for New York, San Francisco or Paris. Denying our ethnicity is a Hong Kong shame. You don’t disown your parents because they are poor or different.
Some teachers at SJC where I studied called us all kinds of names when we performed poorly. Such verbal abuses were doled out in metered dosages of insult and exhortation. Many of us have become world class professionals with no damage to self esteem. I don’t approve this old practice.
Mindless bananas trashed our fellow Chinese. They ought to be dressed down.
四海之內皆兄弟也. Alle Menschen werden Brueder. How come so many poorly English speaking Chinese Democracy believers are so clueless?
Sometime I do pity.
If you felt like a foreigner it was because you chose to. I am a Hong Konger and have lived in three countries outside of Hong Kong, including North America and China, I have never felt like a foreigner or outsider.
If you had lived here, in Hong Kong during the years following 2003, since the Chinese have gained the right to travel here as individual travellers, then you would have something to say about their behavior too. As I already mentioned the Chinese government has asked the Chinese people to behave while abroad.
Tell it what exactly it is even good intention is misunderstood and unwelcomed.
People by their own device will always be prejudice. Without law or even revolution we would be wallowing in our prejudice self. US comes a long way to do what it preaches by implementing laws against discrimination. Sermon or lecture proven to be ineffective.
Very true and well said.
the Chicken and the Egg. What was before?
And, disrespect for Mainlanders and bashig are not just now starting to happen. Before it was, because they were much more poor than the HKnese (that was 20 years ago) and now because they are much more rich than the HKnese.
Just last week when I was in a Mainland city for business, I had a talk with some people about HK. 2 of them have never been to HK and told me they do not want to go here because of the arrogance of the HKnese and how the HKnese look down or despise the Mainlanders.
Real Estate. Proven that this is not true that the Mainlanders are the reason for the increase of property prices. What you are implying is an urban myth created by Mainland Basher to blame the Mainlanders for everything what is going wrong with HK. You are just trying to justify the reason you are here and why the HKners should still like you.
Well, I don't know about 'always'. But certainly there is already a mainlander image problem in HK. Some badly behaved ones are ruining the reputation of the rest. Couple that with antipathy against the mainland's central government (Was CY Leung not suspected of being ordered by the central gov to put National Education into place in HK?) and I think that image of the 'little rude Chinese' you speak of is indeed there. But given everything that has happened, especially over the past year, is that not entirely reasonable? See 2nd post. I agree that better public facilities are a factor, but they are not the whole problem by a long, long way. I also agree that if HK's resources, e.g. hospitals, are already overstretched, then clamping down on mainland mothers would be a start...or even better: getting Guangdong and the rest of the mainland to improve hospital facilities.
It's not just a facilities issue, though. The National Education protests showed that. HKers are worried about loss of their culture and values. I think that the fear and defence of those values (e.g. independent judiciary, limited democracy, press freedom etc) is all the more justified given CY's apparent disregard for them.
Still, I'm not from HK/TW/China myself so I haven't been the victim of discrimination, at least not the sort the article talks about.
Living a life, in general in any place, is not a piece of cake. Not so though for those of the privileged. And often the cake is being taken away from you and me by the privileged. But being privileged was not why those earlier local HKU students had mistreated fellow students from the mainland. Rather the locals were ignorant and arrogant. Readers shouldn’t lost in the subtlety in writer’s claim that that arrogance was greatly subdued in silence in the presence of those not from the mainland but elsewhere. Here I can only conclude that prejudice against mainlanders was at work. I am so disappointed.
Joy Yang i fully support your idea.HKSAR is vvvvvvv Racist city.you hkgers dont forget that PRC is your mother land and mainland.sar depends every thing on Greater china.in short SAR dont have the future with out china
China very much depends on Hong Kong. The largest "foreign" investors in China were for a long time Hong Kong, and Taiwan (via Hong Kong, as they couldn't invest directly in China).
But basically it isn't about China vs. Hong Kong.
It is about rich vs. poor.
The rich are arrogant and think with money they can get everything. They can't.
Actually it is the poor that hold the power over the rich, they just need to realise it in their mind.
Usually the poor are farmers. And even the rich will starve without food.
The poor get jobs as cleaners and nurses and carers.
Let them all go on strike for a week and see how far the rich can go with all their financial power.
There are many more poor than rich. And the rich depend on the middle class to subdue the poor.
Mainland chinese are seen as rich if they can afford to study in Hong Kong. Especially if they boast about 1000sqft apartments.
And "everone" knows how "Chinese" get rich - they steal. Opium from the Brits, land from the farmers, or from Vietnam, fish from the Philippines, a spy plane from America, rocky islands from Japan, technology from Germany, timber from Siberia, Pine trees from Hong Kong, money from tourists, etc.
Is it any wonder if fellow (HK) Chinese are wary?
meaning there is actually no reason for the discrimination. It is just political and you punish the people for that what their government represents? A fine moral move I must say (irony).
"even hongkies locals get discriminated by whites here in hk "
Very unlikely. Just the opposite. G w e i l o s usually get fleeced by the locals. And especially the expats are so stupid to pay the outragous rents, because their companies pay everything and anything to get into the market.
My local friends always tell me to leave the negotiation to them so that I don't get ripped off.
And only my friends in Hong Kong and the mainland made life in both places livable.
Very true and well said.
and that is a reason to hate Mainlanders? I don't think so.


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