Hongkongers who look at mainlanders with disdain need to recall their own roots
Elbert Lee (“To protect Hong Kong’s identity, safeguard English”, February 2) and Edmond Pang (“Hongkongers not interested in new languages”, February 14) talked about Hong Kong identity from a linguistic perspective, which invites us to rethink what a Hong Kong identity is.
This reminds me of how some pro-independence activists have seriously misunderstood who Hongkongers are. They have forgotten where their grandparents or great grandparents came from – mainland China.
Pro-independence people feel disdain for mainlanders because they think that the central government is diluting the local population with mainland Chinese.
They argue that 150-a-day quota for those across the border to live in Hong Kong brings us impoverished and poorly educated people who compete against us for resources. I am not denying that some of these new immigrants have not worked hard enough to contribute to our society, but a lot of them have actually tried hard to mingle with Hongkongers – they just need some time.
Unless you are among the indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories whose roots in Hong Kong go back for centuries, most of our ancestors came from somewhere on the mainland.
If you ask a Hongkonger where their ancestral hometown is, chances are that they will give the name of a mainland province. In other words, our family members and we are more or less mainlanders in some sense.
Since the 1950s, a significant number of mainlanders had flooded into Hong Kong in pursuit of a better life. These people and their descendants have become the main population in Hong Kong.
My grandfather arrived in Hong Kong in the 1970s. He did not know a single Cantonese word before coming to Hong Kong. He worked so hard to learn the language and open up his own grocery store to make a living. Now he speaks Cantonese without any accent.
More interestingly, the kind of old-style grocery store he owned is deemed by many as a part of Hong Kong culture.
So, if my grandfather took some time to adapt to Hongkongers’ lifestyle and language, so do the new immigrants. The kind of Hong Kong culture we have today was built by those who were once mainlanders. It’s time for us to eliminate discrimination against mainlanders and give them some time.
Anson C.Y. Chan, North Point