BLOG – We’re Number 1! Hong Kong is World’s Most Racist State 37


N.B. – See the update here.

Doing the rounds on HK’s social networks today is a survey featured in the Washington Post claiming Hong Kong to be one of the most racist states in the world. 71.8% of Hong Kongers would prefer not to live next to a person of a different race, compared to 71.7% of Bangladeshis – putting us at number 1…

LSWtQ4Ql.jpg (640×316)

via Washington Post, click to enlarge

Many mainstream media outlets are regurgitating the story without examining the data (with the dreaded Daily Mail labelling HK a ‘developing country‘). The original source is the World Values Survey and the figures for Hong Kong are 8 years old. The latest research was conducted in 2005, when 1252 people were questioned (1000 is the minimum). Bear in mind this represents less than 0.02% of the population.

Participants were asked about what kind of people they would not like to have as neighbours….

  • 10.2% ticked ‘drug addicts’.
  • 16% ticked ‘heavy drinkers’
  • 17% ticked ’emotionally unstable people’
  • 42.4% ticked ‘people with a criminal records’
  • 43.1% ticked ‘people who have AIDS’
  • 48.6% ticked ‘homosexuals’.
  • 71.8% ticked ‘people of a different race’
  • 78% ticked ‘immigrants/foreign workers’

Hong Kongers would therefore much rather live next to alcoholics or drug addicts than a minority person…

Ej8CHDy.png (663×322)

Time Out Hong Kong conducted its own racism survey last year. 83.3% of respondents felt HK was as racist as – or most racist than – the rest of the world…

GgFZwuql.jpg (640×429)

via Time Out, click to enlarge

See also: Hong Wrong ‘Sub-Standard’ News: Colgate-Palmolive to Relaunch Racist Toothpaste.


  • anon

    you have it wrong! HK is more intolerant than Bangladesh. Refer to survey – HK: 71.8%
    Bangladesh: 71.7%

    • Tom

      Shit! You’re right – I’ve made the correction. Thanks.
      Not sure if more embarrassed that we’re actually number 1, or more embarrassed I got it wrong.

  • anon

    you have it wrong! HK is more intolerant than Bangladesh. Refer to survey – HK: 71.8%
    Bangladesh: 71.7%

    • Tom

      Shit! You’re right – I’ve made the correction. Thanks.
      Not sure if more embarrassed that we’re actually number 1, or more embarrassed I got it wrong.

  • Calvin

    I think when people are ticking ‘people of a different race’ and ‘immigrants/foreign workers’, some of them are referring to specific kind of people. Frankly speaking, I would prefer not to live near a mainlander.

    • Jess

      By categorizing and assuming that everyone from a certain place (in this case mainland) acts and behaves the same way – if that’s not racist, I dont know what is!

      • Tom

        If Calvin is ethnically Chinese, it makes him more of a xenophobe than a racist. It’s a pretty wide term though, I’d say.

        As the survey is from 2005, I would imagine most Hong Kongers would’ve had in mind people from the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Nepal etc… – Mainlanders weren’t so much on the radar back then.

  • Calvin

    I think when people are ticking ‘people of a different race’ and ‘immigrants/foreign workers’, some of them are referring to specific kind of people. Frankly speaking, I would prefer not to live near a mainlander.

    • Jess

      By categorizing and assuming that everyone from a certain place (in this case mainland) acts and behaves the same way – if that’s not racist, I dont know what is!

      • Tom

        If Calvin is ethnically Chinese, it makes him more of a xenophobe than a racist. It’s a pretty wide term though, I’d say.

        As the survey is from 2005, I would imagine most Hong Kongers would’ve had in mind people from the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Nepal etc… – Mainlanders weren’t so much on the radar back then.

  • cb
  • cb
  • Bob

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/

    The Washington Post have now made an official correction, turns out both HK and Bangladesh was wrongly put at the top.

    “Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. ”

    “The error in the Hong Kong data, first discovered by Chinese-speaking users on Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai. Ng Chun Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor who was the principal investigator on World Values’ survey there, confirmed via e-mail that the data had been transposed on the survey company’s Web site. He added that he has written the World Values Survey team to alert it to this and ask it to remove the faulty data. My thanks to him, as well as to Lai and the Reddit users who dug through original Chinese-language survey forms to demonstrate the error.”

    • Tom Grundy
      • Bob

        Thanks for the clarification.
        Just want to mention that the correction within the Washington Post article itself with regards to HK doesn’t appear until around May 26 (and it didn’t happen until a HK Legco Member contacted the HKU professor to clarify that for Mr. Max Fisher)
        By that time the damage is done,
        and until now, the other widely cited source is Daily Mail, which until now still refuses to correct the mistake (whether intentionally or because of its own incompetence – Daily Fail)
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2325502/Map-shows-worlds-racist-countries-answers-surprise-you.html

        well as with everything internet, it’s the title and first impression that counts.
        as seen in the recent HK-Filipino soccer game argument
        https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10152011914534782
        (not saying i condone the verbal abuse by HK fans, or not sympathize with HK people on the Manila incident, my focus is just that I’m appalled with this “most racist” thing, i thought was corrected but I guess that’s how internet works)

        Anyways thanks for the clarification post, i saw that a facebook user was alerted to that and posted your clarification blogpost as a comment to the original poster who cited this post.

        It has to be mentioned that Bangladesh suffered a similar situation, but luckily a person from Tufts University corrected the situation with Mr. Fisher quickly. (In their case they flipped Yes/No answers, similar to the wording confusion in HK)

        • Tom Grundy

          Cheers Bob – yes, it was a friend who first did the maths on Reddit and spotted the anomolies. I do believe, though, that the football story is just the latest evidence that HK has a long way to go yet, though much of the racism seen here is more ignorant than malicious.

  • Bob

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/

    The Washington Post have now made an official correction, turns out both HK and Bangladesh was wrongly put at the top.

    “Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. ”

    “The error in the Hong Kong data, first discovered by Chinese-speaking users on Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai. Ng Chun Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor who was the principal investigator on World Values’ survey there, confirmed via e-mail that the data had been transposed on the survey company’s Web site. He added that he has written the World Values Survey team to alert it to this and ask it to remove the faulty data. My thanks to him, as well as to Lai and the Reddit users who dug through original Chinese-language survey forms to demonstrate the error.”

    • Tom Grundy
      • Bob

        Thanks for the clarification.
        Just want to mention that the correction within the Washington Post article itself with regards to HK doesn’t appear until around May 26 (and it didn’t happen until a HK Legco Member contacted the HKU professor to clarify that for Mr. Max Fisher)
        By that time the damage is done,
        and until now, the other widely cited source is Daily Mail, which until now still refuses to correct the mistake (whether intentionally or because of its own incompetence – Daily Fail)
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2325502/Map-shows-worlds-racist-countries-answers-surprise-you.html

        well as with everything internet, it’s the title and first impression that counts.
        as seen in the recent HK-Filipino soccer game argument
        https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10152011914534782
        (not saying i condone the verbal abuse by HK fans, or not sympathize with HK people on the Manila incident, my focus is just that I’m appalled with this “most racist” thing, i thought was corrected but I guess that’s how internet works)

        Anyways thanks for the clarification post, i saw that a facebook user was alerted to that and posted your clarification blogpost as a comment to the original poster who cited this post.

        It has to be mentioned that Bangladesh suffered a similar situation, but luckily a person from Tufts University corrected the situation with Mr. Fisher quickly. (In their case they flipped Yes/No answers, similar to the wording confusion in HK)

        • Tom Grundy

          Cheers Bob – yes, it was a friend who first did the maths on Reddit and spotted the anomolies. I do believe, though, that the football story is just the latest evidence that HK has a long way to go yet, though much of the racism seen here is more ignorant than malicious.

  • Ping Meina

    Not surprising. I’m actually a Hong Konger by birth and blood from both parents and moved to the States (SoCal) to be exact. Like most chinese who grew up in southern california, tanning is absolutely fine by me. That’s until I went back to Hong Kong and neverending racism from my own people for 7 day straight. Now I loath going to Hong Kong or running into Hong Kongers or people who are familiar people here because they’ll start calling me crazy or idiotic once they find out that I speak Cantonese (perfectly) and give me all the more crap if they think I am a Hong Konger.

  • Ping Meina

    Not surprising. I’m actually a Hong Konger by birth and blood from both parents and moved to the States (SoCal) to be exact. Like most chinese who grew up in southern california, tanning is absolutely fine by me. That’s until I went back to Hong Kong and neverending racism from my own people for 7 day straight. Now I loath going to Hong Kong or running into Hong Kongers or people who are familiar people here because they’ll start calling me crazy or idiotic once they find out that I speak Cantonese (perfectly) and give me all the more crap if they think I am a Hong Konger.

    • Bill the Awesometacular

      Cantonese belongs to Guangdong people not Hong Kong trash who lost their prestige long ago.

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  • borrillandy

    It is not uncommon for people to receive racism from the citizens of a country,however when the government openly approves of racism it is a far greater concern.A girl I know recently had her natural brown hair dyed black in a Hong Kong school which you could say was the action of a rogue teacher.
    The reason they have dicrimination legislation is a facade in reality they ignore it as when this was brought to the attention of the EB here.They actually say that this action is acceptable and would not take any further action.Nobody disputes the action took place only whether it is acceptable.

  • borrillandy

    It is not uncommon for people to receive racism from the citizens of a country,however when the government openly approves of racism it is a far greater concern.A girl I know recently had her natural brown hair dyed black in a Hong Kong school which you could say was the action of a rogue teacher.
    The reason they have dicrimination legislation is a facade in reality they ignore it as when this was brought to the attention of the EB here.They actually say that this action is acceptable and would not take any further action.Nobody disputes the action took place only whether it is acceptable.

  • Matthew Tan

    Was in HK for the first time about half a year ago with a few friends for little less than a week. Always wanted to go and i spoke passable Cantonese so i figured i could manage, boy was i wrong. Now i’m ethnically Chinese by majority, though i’m from Hawaii and have a little bit of other things mixed in (though you really can’t tell), but, man, can they spot a foreigner right off the bat. The discrimination was obvious: when talking to people on the street, trying to get information, and especially speaking with service staff or shop owners (excepting those times when they think you’re trying to spend big bucks at their establishment, then suddenly they can speak perfect English and are impressed that you can speak their language). Was even so bad that we walked out of a few restaurants in Sheung Wan when the servers refused to take our orders.

    Not that it was totally a bad experience, had a blast at the markets and other touristy attractions where you could blend in (food was incredible…where you could actually get it…), but it was really noticeable when you were alone or isolated and the locals could pick you off.

    Chances are i’ll never go back to HK of my own volition, I’d rather stick with my local Chinatown and the chop suey place down the street and leave it at that.

  • Matthew Tan

    Was in HK for the first time about half a year ago with a few friends for little less than a week. Always wanted to go and i spoke passable Cantonese so i figured i could manage, boy was i wrong. Now i’m ethnically Chinese by majority, though i’m from Hawaii and have a little bit of other things mixed in (though you really can’t tell), but, man, can they spot a foreigner right off the bat. The discrimination was obvious: when talking to people on the street, trying to get information, and especially speaking with service staff or shop owners (excepting those times when they think you’re trying to spend big bucks at their establishment, then suddenly they can speak perfect English and are impressed that you can speak their language). Was even so bad that we walked out of a few restaurants in Sheung Wan when the servers refused to take our orders.

    Not that it was totally a bad experience, had a blast at the markets and other touristy attractions where you could blend in (food was incredible…where you could actually get it…), but it was really noticeable when you were alone or isolated and the locals could pick you off.

    Chances are i’ll never go back to HK of my own volition, I’d rather stick with my local Chinatown and the chop suey place down the street and leave it at that.

    • waleed

      It cannot be denied thay Hong Kong is still a racist !!

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  • Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post!
    It is the little changes that will make the
    most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • ashley

    Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. Ashirul Amin, posting at the Tufts University Fletcher School’s emerging markets blog, looked into the data for Bangladesh and discovered the mistake. My thanks to Amin, who is Bangladeshi and was able to read the original questionnaire, for pointing this out. His analysis is worth reading in full, but here’s his conclusion:

    The short answer is, yes, someone did fat finger this big time. “Yes” and “No” got swapped in the second round of the survey, which means that 28.3% of Bangladeshis said they wouldn’t want neighbors of a different race – not 71.7%.

    26K Facebook likers and 2.5K Tweeters, take note.

    Amin adds, “Bangladeshis are a tolerant bunch — it’s ok to come visit.” The error in the Hong Kong data, first discovered by Chinese-speaking users on Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai. Ng Chun Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor who was the principal investigator on World Values’ survey there, confirmed via e-mail that the data had been transposed on the survey company’s Web site. He added that he has written the World Values Survey team to alert it to this and ask it to remove the faulty data. My thanks to him, as well as to Lai and the Reddit users who dug through original Chinese-language survey forms to demonstrate the error.( from original post.)

  • Simon

    Doesn’t surprise me. It’s a weird situation here. Sometimes I feel artificially rewarded for being a Caucasian in this city – somewhat professionally, though less so recently, though more and more socially be it friends or romantically. My darker complexion friends, good looking and qualified or not, seem to really be looked down upon. It’s very rampant but very subtle. I can see why people are surprised , but it is a pretty bad problem here compared to, well every other city I have visited.

  • waleed

    Not surprising for me as i am working in one of the NGO in HK ,I usually hear people whispering about me like’ Look they employed a A cha’…I wonder what would they feel if someone call them a ‘Tung aa Peng FU’

  • Audrey Sham

    Correction: This post originally indicated that, according to the World Values Survey, 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis and 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers had said that they would not want a neighbor of a different race. In fact, those numbers appear to be substantially lower, 28.3 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively. In both cases, World Values appears to have erroneously posted the incorrect data on its Web site. Ashirul Amin, posting at the Tufts University Fletcher School’s emerging markets blog, looked into the data for Bangladesh and discovered the mistake. My thanks to Amin, who is Bangladeshi and was able to read the original questionnaire, for pointing this out. His analysis is worth reading in full, but here’s his conclusion:

    The short answer is, yes, someone did fat finger this big time. “Yes” and “No” got swapped in the second round of the survey, which means that 28.3% of Bangladeshis said they wouldn’t want neighbors of a different race – not 71.7%.

    26K Facebook likers and 2.5K Tweeters, take note.

    Amin adds, “Bangladeshis are a tolerant bunch — it’s ok to come visit.” The error in the Hong Kong data, first discovered by Chinese-speaking users on Reddit, was flagged by Engadget Chinese editor Richard Lai. Ng Chun Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor who was the principal investigator on World Values’ survey there, confirmed via e-mail that the data had been transposed on the survey company’s Web site. He added that he has written the World Values Survey team to alert it to this and ask it to remove the faulty data. My thanks to him, as well as to Lai and the Reddit users who dug through original Chinese-language survey forms to demonstrate the error.

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/

    P.S. It is very important for you to make the change ASAP because you are spreading wrong information!