Most Hong Kong residents are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Yet we manage to make newcomers, especially those from the mainland, feel less than welcome. Our future lies in attracting talented people. Unless attitudes change, the city we call home risks becoming a parochial backwater. Statistics worryingly point in this direction. Government schemes to attract highly-skilled people and ensure that mainland students live and work here after graduating are having limited success. This seems baffling given that we see Hong Kong as being so much more attractive as a place to live than mainland cities. If surveys and anecdotal evidence are any guide, though, they have good reason not to take up our residency offers. Those who leave cite a lack of generosity of spirit. Living and working here is, for them, stressful. Employers treat them badly, office colleagues ignore them and companies push them to work long hours. Increasingly, management positions and jobs for highly-skilled workers pay better across the border. Hong Kong has obvious advantages. It is vibrant and cosmopolitan, safe and relatively clean; laws are adhered to and there is freedom of speech. But these are of only limited consequence to migrants if they are treated unequally. Those that are skilled and well educated have the ability to go elsewhere - as seems to be the case. As long as this happens, our city will be the poorer. Hong Kong's evolution beyond being a regional financial centre depends on an openness to alternative views and ideas. Our population is fast ageing. People with the means and abilities to forge new directions have to be welcomed. We too easily forget that many of us were once in their shoes. Millions of migrants, mostly from the mainland, have made Hong Kong what it is. In the pre-war years, they came here for work. During the 1950s and 1960s, they came as refugees. Hong Kong has no difficulty accepting the money of mainland tourists. Yet behind their backs, we call them backward and rude. The same attitude is extended by many of us towards those from across the border thinking of making Hong Kong their home. Being discriminatory, narrow-minded and exclusive is no way to move our city forward. Mainlanders, whether migrants or visitors, have to have the same sense of belonging as the rest of us.