Hong Kong is NOT the most racist region in the World

Recently, the Washington Post reported on a survey of racial tolerance, in which people of different countries/regions were asked if they could tolerate having neighbours of other races. The Daily Mail called Hong Kong the “most racist“, as the data shows that 71.8% of Hong Kong people don’t want to have neighbours of different races. Fortunately, redditor cf18 found that the result of the survey was mistranslated – 71.8% of Hongkongers are willing to have neighbours of different origins.

The original data: http://www.wvsevsdb.com/wvs/WVSDocumentation.jsp?Idioma=I (2005-2008 wave-> WVS Hong Kong 2005)

The original Chinese survey (p. 88)

Original Chinese version: willing = 1; unwilling = 2

Translation of the original Chinese survey:

The followings are some people of different backgrounds. Which kinds of people you are not willing to have as neighbours ? (show card)

Willing Unwilling
a. People with criminal records 1 2
b. People of different races 1 2
c. Heavy drinkers 1 2
d. Emotionally unstable people 1 2
e. Foreigners who work in Hong Kong 1 2
f. People who have AIDS 1 2
g. Drug Addicts 1 2
h. Mainland Chinese immigrants 1 2
i. Homosexuals 1 2
j. People who have radical political stances 1 2

The translated version (p. 104):
The result (p. 22):

  1. The translated survey left out the options “1” (willing) and “2” (unwilling), which are on the original one. Also, “1” and “2” were strangely translated into “mention” and “not mention” in the result respectively.
  2. As for the result, 1 has 71.8% and 2 has 26.8%. That means 71.8% Hong Kong people are willing to have neighbours of different races.

Redditor cf18 said he/she emailed the professor to confirm that this is a mistake.

Bangladeshi data has also been found to have the same problem: http://sites.tufts.edu/inclusivecommerceblog/2013/05/16/surveys-gone-bad-when-yes-means-no/


Thanks to our Legislative Council member Charles Mok for contacting the WaPo reporter. I had sent the reporter two tweets but to no avail. Therefore, I contacted Mr Mok. Five hours late, the correction was up.


Certainly, the correction doesn’t mean that discrimination against Southeast and South Asians is less serious in Hong Kong.


6 thoughts on “Hong Kong is NOT the most racist region in the World

  1. Word of caution: this doesn’t mean racial intolerance is NOT an issue in HK. It IS. HK Unison’s survey in 2012 shows that SE Asians / South Asians / Africans are being discriminated against, e.g. only 60% of the respondents accept them as neighbours. Census survey in 2009 show similar results, e.g. only 63% are willing to lease premises to those racial groups.

    Hope you can include these surveys in your entry, so as to prevent this one mis-translated survey from obscuring the whole racism problem in HK.

    1. Don’t confuse discrimination and racism. They are not the same thing. Racism is prejudice based on the assumption that there is something innately different between two ethnicities which makes one superior to the other. What you are talking about is discrimination against a group of people, where they are not given the same opportunities or access to the community.

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