“Been here since 1983 but can’t speak Canto? Loser.”

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Iden­tity Cri­sis

Re­sponses to our in­ter­view with ac­tor and singer Michael Wong [“First Per­son,” July 22, Is­sue 1155], in which he dis­cussed how he doesn’t like to be called a “gweilo.”

Well. Some­how he ex­pects to be called a singer.

Ivor Ngo

Damn right. Racist term. Born and grew up my whole life in Hong Kong hear­ing it. White de­mon? Swivel on it.

Rick Boost

Lit­er­ally it may be “white de­mon”. But as you were born here you would know that in HK it’s a term filled with re­spect/envy/awe, if any­thing it’s a re­verse-racism thing. I mean where else are white non-lo­cals called “ex­pa­tri­ates” in­stead of “eco­nomic im­mi­grants”? I hate to ad­mit it, but Hong Kong is in­deed a very racist place, but cer­tainly not against white folks (“Gwei­los”), but against South Asians etc. The term has just be­come so in­grained in the vo­cab­u­lary that there’s no easy re­place­ment, the lit­eral mean­ing is never thought of.

Al­pha H S Lau

@Al­pha You trip­ping. Put a west­ern folk work­ing in a lo­cal com­pany with lo­cals man­age­ment, and see how there’s “no racism against white folks”. It’s the per­fect oc­ca­sion to spill it all out.

Gam­be­rio Bazz­i­noff

You take it as racist only be­cause you choose to. Con­texts do change from peo­ple to peo­ple and it’s not up to you to say that it’s al­ways deroga­tory to every­one when it isn’t. My young ex­pat fe­male friends call them­selves gwei mui among their lo­cal friends. Does that change the way peo­ple see them. No it doesn’t.

Alvin CW C

When I visit I get told I have gwei jai thinking. It’s not meant in an of­fen­sive way. It’s their way of call­ing some­thing for­eign or alien.

Jason Huang

There are ac­tual terms for for­eign that can be used in­stead. For the hun­dredth time, “It’s just their way” is not a rea­son­able ex­cuse. Frankly it’s rather pa­tro­n­is­ing to eth­ni­cally Chi­nese Hong Kongers to say that they are sim­ply un­able to change.

Rick Boost

Lol - been here since 1983 but can’t speak Canto? Loser.

Michael Wo­j­cieszek

Com­pletely agree with his as­sess­ment w/ the ex­cep­tion of lan­guage. Man­darin should be all that is needed un­less it is his heritage

Jebs Jeb

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