Some of you will recognize the following from the 1961 West Side Story film adaptation:
Riff: Okay, now listen! Now, we fought hard for this turf and we ain’t just gonna
give it up.
Snowboy: Yeah, but these PRs are tough.
Baby John: They multiply.
Action: They keep coming!
A-Rab: Like cockroaches!
Riff: Yeah. What are we gonna do,huh, buddy boys? l’ll tell you what we’re
gonna do. We’re gonna speak back. We’re gonna move like lightnin’… and
we’re gonna clean them Sharks up once and for all… so they ain’t never
gonna set foot on our turf again. And we’re gonna do it, in one, all-out
Action: A rumble! Chung! Cha!
Riff: Now, cool, Action boy. The Sharks want a piece of this world, too. And
they’re real down boys. Now, what’s your mood, Jets?
Replace “PRs” with “PRCs” and “cockroaches” with “locusts” and you’d get a dialogue not out of place on the modern-day streets of Hong Kong, don’t you think? I’ve actually thought long and hard about this one. In the movie, the Jets are portrayed as bad people, making life hell for the Puerto Ricans who simply want a better life for themselves. Are we Hong Kongers just as bad? Do Hong Kongers have a superiority complex as people say or are we simply protecting our home?
We’re hardly the only ones. Terms like “economic migrant” and “anchor baby” are used everywhere. In 2006, a poll revealed that 68% of Americans thought U.S. immigration levels are too high. Australia won’t process refugees on its own shores, sending them to Paupa New Guinea and Nauru. Canada has long been sharply divided between the Anglophones and the Francophones. France bans the hijab in all public institutions including schools. In China, this infamous sign appeared:
Protectionism, localism, the “us vs. them” mentality, it’s all natural. So stop looking at us funny when we 7 million Hong Kongers seem a little wary of the 1300 million PRCS up north. You’re the same.
And keep in mind that the immigration problem is much worse in Hong Kong than almost anywhere else. In other places, immigrants are often criticized for forming their own little enclaves rather than integrating into their adopted city. Here, though, instead of enclaves, PRC immigrants are basically taking over the entire city. Just think for a second about the 150 daily quota for one-way permits from China. That’s 54,750 people each year. Add to that 35,736 “double-negative” children born here in 2011 alone. Together, that is almost half the population of Richmond, BC in a single year! One can see that this is no longer a matter of Hong Kong being unaccommodating. The numbers are simply too much. We are not talking about a flow of immigrants but a flood.
The word “locust” was initially applied to PRCs not as an insult implying that PRCs are less than human, altough I admit it has taken on such connotations. It is simply a commentary on how the insane volume of PRCs in Hong Kong feels like a biblical-sized swarm. Since the PRCs are complaining, I’ll offer an alternative higher in the evolutionary ladder: the cuckoo. Like the parents of “double-negatives”, cuckoo birds typically lay their eggs in the nest of others. The surrogate parents are then forced to cater to the needs of a chick that is not their own, the way Hong Kong is forced to play host to the PRCs to its own detriment (see this earlier article I wrote for examples of this).
Oh wait, to call someone “cuckoo” is to call them insane or mentally ill. I guess out of political correctness I can’t use that term either.