Discriminatory Media Reports Against Mainland Chinese New Immigrants in Hong Kong

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:45
Oral Presentation
Wing Yeung Vivian LEUNG, University of Toronto, Canada
Since the transfer of sovereignty in 1997, the connection between Hong Kong and mainland China has become increasingly close. Mainland-Hong Kong marriage is prevalent since the 90s; it accounted for 38.0% of the total marriages registered in Hong Kong in 2013. The “One-way Permit” scheme (OWP), which is mainly for family reunification, has a quota of 150 new residents from mainland China per day. The number of landed immigrants under this scheme reached a new high in 2016 (over 57,000 individuals), stimulating controversy over immigration restrictions and integration issues specifically directed toward the mainland Chinese immigrant population. This study aims at unfolding the public discourse and the media representation of this immigrant group in Hong Kong.

The study adheres to the analytic paradigm of Critical Discourse Analysis employed by Fairclough (2010) and van Dijk (2008). News articles and columns from major newspapers in Hong Kong were analyzed. The ideological underpinning and taken-for-granted assumptions in the language of media reports were unpacked. Using the analytical tools suggested by van Dijk (2008), we found that the reports contain indirect forms of “racism” even though the discriminated population is racially, ethnically and culturally similar to the Hong Kong local majority. Moreover, the reports emphasized the “cultural” differences between the local and immigrant populations, but the term “culture” often embodied the situated meaning of political attitudes such as support to the Chinese Communist Party. The new immigrants were portrayed to be “culturally” deviant and “threatening” (e.g. on housing and welfare) in order to support the journalists’ proposition to decrease OWP quota. Even though the controversy implied the political resistance by the local society under “one country, two systems”, the discriminatory discourse affected the integration of immigrants, which has already hindered the justice, diversity and harmony within the society.