Racism in Hong Kong

Filed in General, Hong KongTags:

Racism to me is one of the worst evils. It's the precursor of distrust, hatred, genocide, war and many other wrongs.

Racism has been a part of Hong Kong for a long time. High-paid British and American expats looking down on the local Hong Kong Chinese was an accepted part of life in Hong Kong for many years. Only when Hong Kong was returned to China, and when the expats saw their salaries come down while the local Chinese executive salaries went up did some of that racism go away.

Many Hong Kong people that I know will say that Hong Kong people are very fair to non-Chinese races, that racism is a non-issue. To an outsider, and especially to caucasians who are usually treated with respect, that would probably appear to be a fair statement. It is not. Racism among Hong Kong people is unfortunately quite common, and usually targets races and populations who don't make as much money as the local Hong Kong Chinese, or whose home countries rank lower than Hong Kong from a civilisation point of view. Darker races are especially looked down upon. Before 喬寶寶's rise to celebrity status, the only Indians respected in Hong Kong were the hotel owners, even though much of the local Indian population grew up in Hong Kong and are fluent in three or more languages including Cantonese while most local Chinese are only fluent in one language. (喬寶寶 is extremely intelligent, and is fluent in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi.)

Philippinos and Indonesians are also the targets of local racism. As domestic helpers, they work very hard for very little money, and more than a few local Chinese feel that they have the right to treat them like slaves (typically because everyone else does it), working up to 18 hours or more a day. In some cases, the helper is illegally denied their right to take a holiday each week. In some cases, the helpers are even physically abused.

Don't misunderstand me. Hong Kong is certainly not the only country with this problem. Racism is a problem the world over. My point is that Hong Kong is not as non-racist as some people think it is.

Racism presents itself in different forms. Not physically abusing a helper does not necessarily mean that you're not racist. If you make the assumption that all Philippino and Indonesian helpers steal, then you're racist. If you make the assumption that none of a specific race of people can be trusted, that they'll all take advantage of you when you turn your back, that they'll all lie to your face without flinching, then you're racist. If you make the assumption that all people of a specific race are dirty, unsanitary or fowl smelling, then you're racist. If you're disgusted by the gatherings of Philipinos and Indonesians in gardens and public areas throughout Hong Kong on their one day off each week but welcome the sight of Chinese or caucasian gatherings in the parks, then you're probably racist.

I absolutely despise racism, especially when it adversely affects the innocent. And if I discover racism in any of my close friends or relatives, then I am extremely disappointed and saddened.