19 October 2019
Hong Kong people who have enrolled in universities in China or taken up jobs in the country have a wide range of complaints, a survey says. Photo: HKEJ, Internet
Hong Kong people who have enrolled in universities in China or taken up jobs in the country have a wide range of complaints, a survey says. Photo: HKEJ, Internet

HK students, workers in China complain about unequal treatment

Hongkongers who are studying or working in China complain they often face discrimination in terms of the opportunities offered to them relative to their mainland peers, a survey shows.

According to a study conducted by the OCTS Youth Forum, quite a number of Hong Kong people who are enrolled in universities in China or taken up employment in the country are of the view that they do not get the same treatment as mainlanders.

Aiming to understand how Hongkongers feel with regard to life on the mainland, OCTS Youth Forum, a think-tank that was formed in April to look into issues related to the “One country, Two systems” (OCTS), contacted more than a thousand Hong Kong people who are living in China.

Online questionnaires were sent to 1,017 people who were pursuing higher education in institutions located in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as 137 others who have taken up jobs in those cities.

Among the respondents, in-depth interviews were conducted with about a hundred people between May and October this year. 

According to the results unveiled Thursday, 35 percent of the respondents said they had been denied job offers by mainland companies, even though they passed the interview, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Jobs were denied just because the applicants were from Hong Kong, with some employers wanting to save themselves the trouble of applying work permits for them.

Seventy-six percent of the respondents said they hope the “work permit” requirement put on Hongkongers by mainland authorities is removed, while 47 percent said they want to be able to join the social insurance system, especially the part of medical insurance, after they find a job.

As Hong Kong students in general face difficulties in getting employed in the mainland, many of them tend to return home after graduation, the think-tank said in its report.

Fifty-six percent of the interviewed students who are currently studying in mainland universities after graduating from Hong Kong secondary schools said they want to go back to Hong Kong to work or purse a postgraduate degree, compared to 22 percent who want to stay.

In comparison, 38 percent of the Hong Kong students who have been studying in the mainland since primary and secondary school want to stay, while only 31 percent look to return to Hong Kong after graduation.

Henry Ho Kin-chung, OCTS Youth Forum convenor who once served as political assistant to a senior Hong Kong government official, said Hongkongers face quite a number of difficulties while living in China.

For instance, Chinese universities tend to help mainland students in job searches but not Hong Kong pupils, who deserve the same opportunity, said Ho, a former aide to the Secretary for Development.

Xia Ying from the Institute of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Development Studies of Gunagzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, who helped conduct the study, called on mainland institutes to make more efforts to help all of their students, including those from Hong Kong, to find a job.

In addition to employment issues, a 19-year-old Hong Kong student who is studying at Jinan University in Guangzhou said Hongkongers find it inconvenient when it comes to many things regarding daily living.

For instance, they are unable to get tickets for some musicals or sports games because it requires a mainland ID card to do so, the student said.

OCTS Youth Forum offered a total of ten suggestions in its report, including a call on the Hong Kong government to urge its offices in the mainland to be more aggressive to ensure better opportunities for Hongkongers.

Efforts must be made to help Hong Kong entities and individuals gain business opportunities in the mainland, it said, adding that Hong Kong firms operating in China should also be pushed to offer more internship jobs for Hong Kong students.

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