Letter to the Observer regarding racism in Chinese societies:

I am pleased that Martin Jacques’s court case against the Hong Kong Hospital Authority had a positive outcome (”After 10 years, I have justice for the woman I love”, News). Growing up in Hong Kong, racism wasn’t part of the daily parlance. I only came to understand this since coming to live in England and being on the receiving end of racism. While I can debate the issues of racism among my British friends, I find it extremely difficult to develop meaningful discussions with Chinese friends.

The basic premise of Chinese racism is that anyone who is not Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group in China, is racially or culturally inferior. A few Chinese I have spoken to denied they experienced any racism in Britain. At first, I found it difficult to understand how non-white people can fail to notice racism in Britain. Then it dawned on me that to admit being on the receiving end of racism is perhaps to a Chinese person to infer that s/he is inferior to the abuser.

It may be helpful to note that racism in Hong Kong is a variant of Chinese racism in general; it is not so much a backlash against British colonial rule. With the ascendance of China as an economic power, perhaps it’s timely to further the debate on racism in Chinese societies.

Dr Suet Ying Ho

Centre for East Asian Studies

University of Bristol