HONG KONG: Disdain for Mainlanders, But Schools Need Children

LAUREN CHEN WRITES – Perhaps mainlanders aren’t locusts after all. Despite fervent disdain toward folks across the straight, Hong Kong schools have begun soliciting students from Mainland China.

The negative feelings towards Mainlanders are accurately portrayed through popular Memes. A recent South China Morning Post article printed the view of an expat in Hong Kong who said: “There’s a very real attitude of: ‘Don’t even call us Chinese, we’re Hong Kong people, or HK-ers.'”

This attitude was expressed in several Memes, including one depicting a cartoon Lego figure being thrown out of a window. The reason for the punishment? He answered “Chinese” to the question: “What do you call somebody from Hong Kong?”

Last year, some HK-ers banded together to fund an ad that metaphorically compared mainland tourists to locusts. The ad translates to: “Hong Kong people have had enough!” The frank ad not only asserts HK-ers’ frustration, but their demand for the government to revise the Basic Law to stop pregnant mainlanders from coming to the island to give birth to “double negative” children.

“Double negative” is a derogatory nickname for people whose parents are not native HK-ers. The complaint among natives is that these families reap the benefits of the city while giving nothing back.

But not all HK-ers hate on the mainland. Recently, schools across Hong Kong have struggled with student enrollment as the island’s low birthrate has caused a drop in enrollment. To help keep their seats full, 20 elementary schools have begun to target parents living in the mainland with Hong Kong-born children.

South China Morning Post reports that “about 20,000 cross-border pupils – children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents, or from local families currently living on the mainland – currently cross the border every day to attend the city’s public schools.” The situation only reinforces tensions between mainlanders and HK-ers.

The endless influx of migrants from Beijing into Hong Kong is complex. Between overpopulation and a housing shortage, any resolution seems like a daunting task.

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