Monday, July 13, 2020


Article Index

China - Hong Kong

- China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) - Hong Kong

Although 95 percent ethnic Chinese, the SAR is a multiethnic society with persons from a number of ethnic groups recognized as permanent residents with full rights under the law. Discrimination based on race is prohibited by law, and the EOC oversees implementation and enforcement of the law. The Race Relations Unit, which is subordinate to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, served as secretariat to the Committee on the Promotion of Racial Harmony and implemented the committee's programs. The unit also maintained a hotline for inquiries and complaints concerning racial discrimination. The code of practice (along with selected other EOC materials) was available in Hindi, Thai, Urdu, Nepali, Indonesian, and Tagalog, in addition to Chinese and English. As of July 31, the EOC received 49 complaints and handled 63 cases.

The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau sponsored a cross-cultural learning program for non-Chinese speaking youth through grants to NGOs.

The government had a policy to integrate non-Chinese students into Hong Kong's schools. The government also provided a special grant for designated schools with a critical mass of non-Chinese students to develop their own programs, share best practices with other schools, develop supplementary curriculum materials, and set up the Chinese-language support centers to provide after-school programs. However, activists expressed concern that there

was no formal government-provided course to prepare students for the General Certificate for Secondary Education exam in Chinese, a passing grade from which is required for most civil service employment. Activists also noted that government programs encouraging predominantly Chinese schools to welcome minority students backfired, turning whole schools into segregated institutions." These schools did not teach Chinese to the non-ethnically Chinese students. Students who did not learn Chinese had significant difficulty entering the labor market, leading to a cycle of problems including unemployment and poverty, according to reports from the government and nongovernmental organizations.

The EOC established a working group on Education for Ethnic Minorities in July 2010, which presented a set of recommendations to the Education Bureau in March and July. According to activists and the EOC, the Education Bureau has not responded to the recommendations.

Minority group leaders and activists complained that government requirements that all job applicants speak Chinese kept nonnative Chinese speakers out of civil service and law enforcement positions. Despite the fact that both English and Chinese were official languages, reports indicated that little more than one third of government departments regularly issued their press releases in both.

Following Chief Executive Tsang's calls for support to ethnic minorities in the October policy address, the government's Community Care Fund endorsed a new program to support minorities and new arrivals with Chinese language training.

Activists and the government disputed whether new immigrants from the mainland should be considered as a population of concern under antidiscrimination legislation. While concerns were raised that new immigrants do not qualify to receive social welfare benefits until they have resided in the SAR for seven years, the courts upheld this legal standard. Such immigrants can apply on a case-specific basis for assistance.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law