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  • Sep 1, 2014
  • Updated: 4:11pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong not so racist after all as survey errors revealed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 10:31am

Relax - Hong Kong and Bangladesh may not be as racist as suggested by the world map on racial tolerance published last week.

The map, made by The Washington Post based on data from the World Values Survey, showed 71.7 per cent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 per cent of Hongkongers did not want a neighbour of a different race.

"In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its website," the US newspaper wrote in a correction this week. "The figures for Hong Kong and Bangladesh should be substantially lower at 26.8 per cent and 28.3 per cent respectively."

While the results are less startling, they are still high by comparison with much of the world, alongside Malaysia, the Philippines and France. China and Japan are still marginally more tolerant, while India and Yemen are also high on the list.

The error has raised questions about the validity of the entire exercise and in particular polling in Hong Kong, a subject recently explored by the Post.

"I think the Hong Kong and Bangladesh figures were misinterpreted due to a mistranslation of the answer codes," said University of Hong Kong sociologist Ng Chun-hung, who conducted the Hong Kong survey for the project in 2005. "I have written to the World Values Survey team [asking it] to withdraw the Hong Kong tables for the moment and upload amended ones later on." He added it was a "bit dangerous," to use just one question to draw a conclusion, because different cultures could interpret answers differently.

"[World Values] is a rather loose network of scholars and the way the surveys were done would depend on the resources available to each scholar," he said. "

The error in the Bangladesh results was discovered by Ashirul Amin, a PhD student at Tufts University in the US. The Hong Kong error, found by Chinese-speaking users of internet forum Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai.

Open data advocate Fu King-wa said it showed "the beauty of open data" because anyone could check information.

"That's why I've been one of those lobbying the government for open access for data," said Fu, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong involved in Weiboscope, which shows what Sina Weibo users are discussing.

While people on social media sites were quick to point out examples that supported the original results, experts had another view.

"It's a fair representation of what was going on eight years ago," said Paul O'Connor, assistant professor of anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, when he was approached after the story was first published last week. "But in the last few years things have changed, with tension between mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese."

Because cosmopolitan and Western influences are qualities Hongkongers use to distinguish themselves from mainland Chinese, instances of racism are now less common against those who look different, he said.

"I also think this example doesn't give Hong Kong people enough credit. There are a lot of things that Hong Kong people are more tolerant of that other people aren't elsewhere in the world. For instance, Islam isn't a contentious issue in Hong Kong."

But he added: "It's still the case that the darker the skin colour the greater the prejudice ... It's still tough for ethnic minorities here."




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This article is now closed to comments

Canuckexpat can always go home if he doesnt like it, after all Canada one of the friendliest and welcoming countries on earth.
Not so lucky if u come from any other country tho... esp If ur muslim and from Europe or States. Dont forget States packed the Chinese back after building the railroad.
guylongtin is one of those bitter expats I talked about earlier. He also didn't bother to read the article.
This survey really does reflect how people in Hong Kong view race. Anyone who denies it, is out of step with reality (or what I would call a typical Hong Kong bubble).I've lived in Hong Kong for 9 years now and I am shocked at how they treat minorities of a darker shade of skin. And yes, they are overly honest at how racist they are, i've seen many times! They look down on South East Asians as lesser than them. With a population of 95% Chinese, this city really isn't "Asia's world City", but a xenophobic society. You can't compare Hong Kong to more international cities like London, New York or Toronto where there is a real mix of global cultures. Hong Kong is not just Central! I would say a great part of Asia, not just Hong Kong is Xenophobic. The only city in Asia that reflects a true mix of cultures in would be Singapore, where Malays, Chinese and Indians live side by side, Singapore would truly be "Asia's world City"!
I rest my case ... Hong Kong bubble
At least you dont get physically attacked if u r black/indian here, unlike in the UK or USA.
Different forms of xenophobia, and I know which one I prefer.
White people cant comment on racism as they have never truly experienced it, so when they get see it they get in such huff about it that its sooo funny.
Okay, now YOU'RE just being racist.
Defiantely HK is allot more tolerant thant UK and US. There is no question ther (I have lived in both). Hogn Kong people are more likely to be overly honest on polls where people in US / UK have these ideals that even though they are raceist it is best to say they are not.
I never see minorities protestign in the street or homeless here like UK / US. They are generally treated much better and paid allot more than locals.
Look at all those from US / UK / India in HK. theya re all well paid. At least 4X the average wage.
This article is a mess. It has parts copied from the previous article. Totally sloppy.
Hong kong and bangladesh along side, that's why now HK can hire bangladesh people as helpers?


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