From Southern Weekly:
An internet group organized by people against the new mainland immigrants to get equal benefits has won 80,000 Hongkongese’ s support; a song describing mainland Chinese as locusts has become popular in Hong Kong. Regarding those new immigrants from the mainland, people at different levels in Hong Kong have started to express their views and arguments.
It’s been fourteen years since Hong Kong’s return; mainland China is playing an increasingly important role in driving Hong Kong’s development. The exchange and convergence of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong are deepening. However, this dispute that began over immigrants has expanded to include residence from mainland China. What are Hongkongese worried about?
Regarding the anti-immigration storm, new immigrants are fighting for their rights with the assistance of select social groups: This is an appeal about mainland women coming to Hong Kong to give birth.
In the beginning of March, a third year university student named Lawrence, studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, joined a Facebook group “香港本土力量” (means “Hong Kong Local Power”). Not long before this, the Hong Kong government decided to give every permanent resident 6000 HKD. （Permanent resident status is achieved when a person has been in Hong Kong for seven or more years.）Some organizations are calling for equal right for new immigrants who have been living in Hong Kong under seven years. The principle of “Hong Kong Local Power” is very simple: they are opposed to giving benefits to new immigrants.
Out of Lawrence’s expectation, this group’s organization triggered a storm. Within two days after the group’s establishment, the number of group members had reached 400. The confrontation was escalating sharply.
A woman who is a new immigrant from mainland called RTHK hotline and poured out her own bitterness. The recording was cut and uploaded to YouTube, then Facebook, the hits quickly exceeded 120,000.
On March 6, during the first parade of “Against Shortsighted Budget”, physical confrontations took place between protesters and new immigrants. On March 8, another group in support of the status quo was established on Facebook and it put forward, “New immigrants have no right to get 6000 HKD, it is permanent residents’ exclusive benefit; we will get 100,000 supporters.” Membership exceeded 800,000 in less than a week!
Opponents appeared immediately. The former chairman of the Student Union at City University of Hong Kong reported that this group is suspected of being racist. Netizens who claimed that they are protecting Hong Kong dismissed the former chairman as a “traitor,” and promptly began an extensive investigation into the former chairman.
On Apr. 10, along with over 200 netizens, Lawrence paraded on the street with a slogan “Against the fund given to new immigrants”. At that time, their anger on new immigrants had already expanded to mainland Chinese.
In the parade, some people carried protest signs objecting to the milk shortage in Hong Kong due to the melamine contaminated milk from mainland China. They are also dissatisfied with the mainland Chinese women that come to Hong Kong to give birth. They support the policy that Hong Kong government tightens the birth policy and stops public hospitals from accepting appointments from mainland pregnant women.
Then, an internet song named “蝗虫天下” (means locust world) described mainland Chinese as the following: “They shout in restaurants, hotels, stores…”; “They like to invade and occupy other’s territory.”; “They grab others’ ID cards.”; “They sell fake products.”; “They are parasitic locusts.”… This song has been widely re-posted and spread on YouTube, Facebook and some local Hong Kong forums.
Those locusts, with strong aggressivity, has replaced “A Can”, “Biao Shu”, “Biao Jie”, what Hongkongnese call mainland people 20 or 30 years ago. The latters are rustic, poor, timid and funny, but at least they pose no threats to Hongkongese.
Hong Kong has returned to China for nearly 14 years. During those years, mainland China has been playing an increasingly important role in helping and leading Hong Kong’s economy. The exchange and convergence of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong are deepening. However, a great disturbance caused by 6000 HKD issue, and a group of “new immigrants” whom most mainland Chinese know little about, make mainland Chinese realize this: their image in Hongkongese’s eyes does not increase with the development of economy.
Every one wants to know, why?
New immigrants’ new issues
These days, “同根社” (means “same-rooted league”), a social group organized by women who are newcomers in Hong Kong, has received numerous calls. Shock and fear are spreading over the phones. The targets of this public disturbance are those women— new immigrants.
Statistic shows that in the last 20 years, marriages (composed of mainland Chinese and Hongkongese) increased to 22339 in 2009 from 16451 in 1986. More than 80% of them are mainland women married to Hong Kong men.
In the first 7 years of living in Hong Kong, those brides only have one-way permit, not HK Permanent ID Card; they do not have the right to apply for public housing and comprehensive social security assistance; they also have no voting rights.
They are the mainstream of “New immigrants”. Statistics tell us those immigrants with one-way permit to get to Hong Kong reached 310,000. Among them, 73.7% are women—so called mainland brides.
Shum Shui Po is one of the gathering areas of new immigrant families; other areas include Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, Sha Tin, etc. Only in those areas, there are a lot of cheap splint houses, or 200-300 square feet room for rent.
Yang Mei, secretary general of “同根社”, is an example of new immigrants. She already has a three-star (HK Permanent ID Card). Her family of five people moved to Hoi Lai Estate in Nanchang road. Her oldest daughter is studying in Hong Kong Open University. This university is so so, but among 150 Chinese & Hong Kong families that Yang Mea knows, there are only 3 children go to university since now.
This group has lagged behind and been put into the bottom of society since Hong Kong’s transformation. “Living on social security assistance” has been their label for a long time.
“同根社” is in an office in Mong Kok. New women immigrants will seek help from this league— Settling the problems is part of Yang Mei’s daily work. “All kinds of problems; some problems you can imagine and some problems you can not imagine.” She said “Divorce, missing, having difficulty in finding a job, being despised by husband’s family; children have character disorder…”
According to the statistics from a Hong Kong Women Rights League, there were 512 cases of domestic violence in 2010, while 80% are reported by mainland brides. Recent calls are focused on this: “Can we get 6000 HKD?”
New immigrant’s narrow and crowded house; those mainland brides belong to the bottom of society. (Photo by Southern Weekend reporter)
Apparently, poverty is not the reason why new immigrants make Hongkongese angry. During the storm of illegal entry into Hong Kong, those “New immigrants” escaped to Hong Kong without cash in their pocket.
When that experience is mentioned, He Xiulan (HK Legislative Council Member) teared several times. At that time, British government in Hong Kong sent British army to patrol border. Hong Kong local policemen would give offenders a way out; people who successfully entered Hong Kong would get help from Hongkongese: a meal, a bus ticket to go to the city, or a call to their family.
More and more people were escaping to Hong Kong. In 1980, British government in Hong Kong announced that the Touch Base Policy was abolished (If escapers can get to Hong Kong and get together with their HK relatives, then they can live here legally. If they get arrested on the border, they will be sent back); people can get on the last bus if they successfully get to Wan Chai Sports Ground by 12:00 pm.
“When it is approaching 12:00 pm, almost all Hongkongese were watching the TV live broadcast. On-site policemen were helping to pull the segregating rope and cheering for escapers, and even run to them to drag them to the other side of segregating rope.” He Xiulan said in memory.
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One day in March, Lawrence found a group named “香港本土力量” on Facebook and joined it. He volunteered to take the responsibility of contacting overseas publicity.
Before joining the group, he paused and then used a new username and account number to join the group, since he does not want his mainland classmates and friends to know that. He said that he may go to mainland China to develop his career after graduation. Generally he is a gentle person.