Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hong Kongers in Beijing

It's Golden Week in China and some people from Hong Kong have come up to the Chinese capital to see the sights.

As I was on my way to meet my parents' friends at a hotel just off Wangfujing, there were not only hordes of people all over the shopping strip, but also tour groups from Hong Kong.

Some of the guides pointed out the sights, while others counted numbers to make sure everyone was there before moving on.

My parents' friends and their relatives are from Hong Kong and they quickly admit it's horrible listening to Cantonese people speaking Mandarin.

"We can't roll our r's like the mainlanders," said one.

Another observed the culture of politeness and proper habits still hasn't taken a hold in China. "It's going to take a long time," he said. Perhaps he was disappointed that even after the Olympics, basic manners still weren't being observed.

His wife gave an example.

"We were in the Forbidden City today, and I needed to go to the washroom," she explained. "It cost 1RMB so fine, I gave the washroom attendant the money. But then the attendant snuck in five of her friends into the bathroom to use the toilet first.

"I quickly admonished the woman -- I said, 'Why are you letting these people go first? I paid, didn't I? I waited didn't I?'" she recalled, with a flash of indignation still lingering.

It was no use -- she still had to wait her turn despite having paid the requisite amount.

And while this small group was crossing the road, a car didn't wait for them and tried to turn right. My parents' friend didn't let the driver get away with it and smacked the car with her hand to let him know what he was doing was rude.

Despite these warnings, most Chinese here just shrug and carry on with whatever they were doing.

But really, wasn't that what all those "civilized" campaigns were all about in the run-up to the Olympics?

Or now that the big party is over, no one cares anymore?

For many Hong Kong people, it's a rude awakening, that their cousins to the north are not as civilized as they are.

And it just reinforces stereotypes people have of mainlanders, creating a greater rift between "us" and "them".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will take a few generations to re-educate the Chinese people about manners. For too long they were indoctrinated that to oppose is devine.