'I've been called a mainland dog', reveals award-winning student battling discrimination

Li Wang has not let anti-mainlander sentiment get to him; instead the experience has helped turn him into an award-winning student

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 3:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 June, 2014, 11:36am

Discrimination is something mainland student Li Wang has come to live with since arriving in Hong Kong two years ago.

The 20-year-old, who is studying accounting at City University, has been called a "thief" and a "dog" and his friends have received random tellings-off on the MTR - all because they are from the mainland.

But rather than let the tension get to him, Li decided to do something about it - he became involved in voluntary work with children - a role in which he excels in setting a good example.

Yesterday RTHK recognised his efforts - and those of five others - with an outstanding student award. The award recognises Chinese-speaking non-local university students who go the extra mile in their studies, conduct and service to society.

Outside of his studies, Li teaches interview skills at a workshop in a primary school and hosts a tutorial session at a special education school.

"Going once a week doesn't help much in their studies, but I can keep them company and bring them joy," he said.

It's not just his pupils that Li sets a good example to - since coming to Hong Kong he has been careful to remind his friends of the importance of proper behaviour, such as not eating or drinking on the MTR.

Despite his conscientious approach, he has often found himself in the middle of Hong Kong-mainland tensions, such as when he first arrived in Hong Kong in 2012 from Zhejiang .

A young woman approached him and his parents in a Mong Kok street, hurling insults at them and calling them "mainland dogs" and "mainland thieves".

Another time, a pregnant MTR passenger complained to Li's school about some of his friends, claiming they had not given their seats up - even though they had done so when she asked them.

Yet Li isn't bitter. "I came to Hong Kong and I love Hong Kong," he said after receiving his award. "My schoolmates are very nice. I go to church and people there are very nice too. Those against mainlanders do not represent the whole picture."

Another winner of the award, Ranie Wang Ran, 21, also from Zhejiang, came to Hong Kong to pursue her dream of studying communications, despite opposition from her parents.

Her father, a senior PLA officer, had wanted her to go to a military academy. But she resisted although the stress left her unable to eat or sleep. She lost 18kg. Eventually, her father gave in.

"I think it's a tragedy for a person to have no dreams, but my parents think it's normal," she said. Now in her third year at Baptist University film academy, she aims to become a screenwriter.