Racial Stratification in Hong Kong

by Chris Leung

Latin Americanization means the phenomenon of racial stratification and the book Shades of Difference took the example in the United States. However, this term can also be applicable in other places. For instance, in my birth place, Hong Kong, racial stratification is also obvious. However, the situation is quite different from the States.

Since Hong Kong was colonized by Great Britain, racial stratification has already been installed into people’s minds. In terms of the strata, in the beginning of the colonization period, British people and other European were obviously in the top level, followed by East Asians especially Indians. Finally most of the Chinese were in the bottom of the strata. However, there were also some elite Chinese, who could manage to live in the same standard with the Europeans, most of them also discriminated against the collective Chinese with the Europeans. At that time, many luxurious restaurants and shops insisted “Not allowing dog and Chinese.”

This strata system lasted for a quite long period until there were more Chinese people started to work for the government. Nowadays, as Hong Kong has already returned back to China, the strata system has also changed drastically. As there are no more foreigners taking major role in the government, the Chinese could finally regain the position they used to have before colonization and the discrimination against races has a lot improved.

However, when I say Chinese, it only means those who born and grew up in Hong Kong, those who emigrated from the mainland China in this decade also face a huge discrimination by the local ‘Chinese.’ Since many of them are not well educated, they could only do low-paying jobs like cleaner or security guard. Further, there are many family issues among these immigrants, hence the area they live is always a big social concern to the government and there were few movies trying to describe the life in the area where many of the residents think that the movies tried to label their living place as the slum of Hong Kong.

In conclusion, the situation in Hong Kong is quite special. In general term, stratification and discrimination are always between races like in the States. However, in Hong Kong, such things are happening inside one race, which is the Chinese.