23 October 2019

Double standard in Hong Kong? You be the judge

Indeed, if you randomly ask a Hongkonger whether he or she thinks the four white teenagers who sat on the floor of a rail car have done anything wrong, probably you will hear “no, they have their freedom if they don’t mind the floor is dirty.”

But if they are mainland Chinese, will Hong Kong people react differently? Some, but not all, will put their thumbs down.

Does that make Hong Kong people racists and guilty of double standard? 

The issue sparked a social media storm after a netizen posted a picture showing four white girls squat on the floor of a subway train.

“If they were from the mainland, they would be definitely criticized. But how can this kind of behavior by foreigners be described as “reflecting their true nature?” the netizen said.

The netizen also said those Hong Kong people who “choose” to trigger quarrels with mainlanders in public areas have double standards. He elaborated his view with two recent cases - a mainland couple allowed their toddler to urinate on the pavement; a Hong Kong woman with mainland accent shouted at a fellow passenger after being called out for eating on the train.

Such comparison was irrelevant but he got some fans. The post has received more than 5,900 “likes” and more than 500 comments.

Some professionals tried to explain the whole issue but none of them provided an apple-to-apple comparision and analytical data.

Some Hong Kong people have a preconceived impression of mainlanders that fits them into a certain stereotype such as impolite and crass, Stephen Sun, a lecturer on social issues in the City University of Hong Kong, told a local newspaper on Monday.

Also, Hongkongers are fed up with repeated appeals by government officials for tolerance toward mainlanders without a substantive solution, he said.

Cecilia Chan, head of the department of social work and social administration of Hong Kong University, said the bias toward foreigners is an economic issue — some Hong Kong people tend to equate foreigners with more benefits for the economy compared with mainlanders.

Meanwhile, clinical psychologist Daisy Chow said Hong Kong people suffer from a centuries-old colonial mentality that attracts them to anything foreign. In contrast, they view mainlanders as being “backward”.

That said, it’s possible that these incidents are distorted by numbers. There are no statistics on mainlanders and foreigners behaving badly but the fact that there are more Chinese mainlanders than Caucasians in Hong Kong means there are more chances of the former being called out for misbehavior than the latter.

It is also possible that Hongkongers may have actually criticised local people more frequently than foreigners or mainlanders. Let’s recall ours memory about “uncle bus”, who was seriously criticized by local youtube watchers as he shouted at a young man on a bus in 2006.  

The latest incident followed a highly publicized altercation between two Hong Kong passengers on a subway train. It ended with one of the women being described in unflattering terms and being mocked on social media as “Miss Thick Toast” for mispronouncing certain Hong Kong words.

At the moment, no one can make a conclusion that Hong Kong people are racists. It will be good if someone can make a survey on how Hongkongers would react to the rude behaviours of locals, mainlanders and foreigners.

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EJ Insight reporter