Mainland arrivals feel unwelcome

More than half of new immigrants from the mainland say they have experienced some form of discrimination in Hong Kong, a survey by the Society of Community Organization has found.

It polled 531 mainland immigrants – 336 adults and 195 children – between May 2019 and this January, including those who have acquired permanent resident status after living in Hong Kong for seven years.

Some 57.7 percent of adult immigrants and 32.3 percent of child immigrants said they have faced discrimination because of their immigrant identity.

Among them was a nine-year-old girl, Leung, who said one of her neighbors upset her family following her mother’s arrival from the mainland this year.

“They always call me a mainland girl, though I was born in Hong Kong,” she said.

She also said her neighbor pounded on the door and smashed their windows while she was practicing on the piano.

The girl said she was frightened by her neighbor’s acts, while her mother said they had called in the police and the Housing Authority but the neighbor did not move out, so they could only continue to suffer.

“It was like we don’t have the right to live,” the mother said.

Around 44.7 percent of adult immigrants said they were on the receiving end of impolite treatment, and 31.2 percent said the service they received in restaurants and shops were worse off. Some 38 percent of respondents also said they received less respect compared to other people, and one third felt that people looked down on them.

One fifth of adult respondents who received heavier workloads with lower pay felt insulted by employers or customers. And over 58.2 percent of adult respondents and 45.7 percent of children showed signs of depression.

A woman Cao, who arrived five years ago, said she suffers from depression because of the “bullying” she experienced at work.

Cao, who works in a supermarket as a cashier, said she works over 14 hours a day and was asked to pick up heavy goods. She was once locked in a fridge for over an hour because of mischief by her colleagues.

In order to avoid discrimination, 40.1 percent of adult immigrants and 45.6 percent of children said they do not tell others they are immigrants.

Soco called on the government to amend the Race Discrimination Ordinance to cover discrimination against resident status and country of origin, so the law would protect new immigrants from the mainland.

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