11th October 2013
“New Hong Kongers”
The public regards anchor babies as the source of the problem kindergarten school spaces shortage in North Hong Kong. These anchor babies are the new One-Way Permit (OWP) immigrants at present or in the near future. Perhaps we should all change our mindset and call them “New Hong Kongers”.
The overseas edition of People’s Daily (China’s CCP and Government mouthpiece) published an article the other day, citing many individuals claiming that the new immigrants from China to Hong Kong have changed structurally and are no longer the “social burden” in the “past”. However, the fact is that during 70s and 80s, Hong Kong was undergoing a tremendous economic boom, there was a huge demand for labour in various industries, particularly the manufacturing industry. New immigrants then filled the need of such demand. However, back then the social resources were scarce and social welfare was practically nonexistent. Hence, the reality was the society could not tolerate any “social burden”. As time goes by, Hong Kong’s economy has transformed. Labour intensive industries are either in decline, or have moved to the North. Even if there is a demand for more labour force, such demand will only be within the high-technology and high-value industries, completely different from what it was a few decades ago.
Therefore, the stance about new immigrants or “New Hong Kongers” as the source of local labour in Hong Kong and are self-supporting and have no need for social welfare, emphasised in the People’s Daily article, is merely a counterargument of the “locusts theory” which is so popular in the society. However, the article’s stance cannot be backed by solid statistics. According to Hong Kong SAR Government’s data, the average family income of new immigrants is approximately 1/3 of other families in Hong Kong. Moreover, there are only 60% of new immigrants families have wages as the core source of family income, whilst 30% of new immigrants families rely on social welfare and supports from other families/friends.
With over 50% of new immigrants applied for public housing, Hong Kong’s public housing is surely under tremendous pressure. Some Hong Kong government officials said that the education level of new immigrants continue to raise, with 17% of them have received tertiary education, comparing to 28% of Hong Kongers have received tertiary education in 2012, the figure is not convincing in terms of helping Hong Kong to continue building a “knowledge-base society”.
The People’s Daily article also quoted Professor Chow Po-chung from Department of Government and Public Administration at Chinese University, in order to explain that the controversy brought by OWP new immigrants was merely Hong Kongers’ anxiety over their identity, and even directly quoted Professor Chow that, “In any case, the notion of completely cutting off from China a bigoted opinion that has no market in Hong Kong… How to seek development opportunities in China is also a hot topic in Hong Kong.”
Professor Chow, however, immediately clarified on social media platform that he had never been interviewed by People’s Daily. The quote in the article which was taken out of context was from an interview piece published in Southern Weekly two years ago. Chow also said that part of the “citation” was in fact the People’s Daily journalist’s personal opinion, and somehow became his opinion in the article. Such trickery of substituting one’s opinion for another is astonishing.
The article also included sentimental stories to manipulate readers’ feelings, for example, there are touching stories in the “New Hong Kongers” competition (no official name found in English) “every year”, and the winners of the competition this year include a “New Hong Konger” mother who has to look after her sick husband and volunteer with her daughter; a single father who looks after his children dearly, etc. Of course families in difficult situations and their determination and spirits are admirable, and should be sympathised and praised. The problem, however, is if these individuals are not “New Hong Kongers”, would their difficult situation be different and deserve no attention?
In addition, this competition was held for the first time this year. The article misrepresented it as an event being held “every year”. Perhaps, it is only a minor mistake in the article, but it certainly shows that the article has already taken a stand in the issue and made a fuzz around it. Essentially, this article’s core is, “we should be positive and work on how to assist ‘New Hong Kongers’ to fully realise their talents, to improve Hong Kong and its economic development, but not shutting the families of Hong Kongers out.” This is what was said by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Secretary of HKSAR, at the “New Hong Kongers” competition mentioned above. Perhaps, the real agenda which was not being expressed is “how to assist the new OWP immigrants to enjoy all the social welfare, to speed up Hong Kong and China integration, and kick the ‘Old Hong Kongers’ out.”
Below are the statistics released by Hong Kong SAR Government:
According to Immigration Department, Hong Kong attracts less than 30,000 professional talents a year on average, that is less than 1% of the total labour force.
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals issued 8,300 work permits in 2011/2012; Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates and Capital Investment Entrant Scheme both issued around 5,000 visas in the same period; however, only 273 visas were issued via the Quality Migrants Admission Scheme.
In the past tend years, Singapore attracted 75,000 individuals to move over, and 80% of them received tertiary education.
The majority of new OWP immigrants are housewives and children: 84% of new immigrants received secondary education, and the majority of them (41%) have only studied in junior secondary school (school for age between 12 and 15), new immigrants with tertiary education qualification only account for 16%.