Hong Kong v. Shenzhen on Immigration

QQ截图未命名3A full page anti-immigration ad taken out in a Hong Kong newspaper is making waves. The ad (shown at right; note the locust) reads:

Do you want Hong Kong to pay 1 million HKD per 18 minute raising illegitimate child from mainland?

Hong Kong people have had enough of it!

We understand that you suffer from contaminated milk powder, so we tolerate your raid upon our milk powder; we understand that you don’t have freedom, so we receive you over here through “free pass”; we understand that your education is poor, so we share our educational resource with you; we understand that you don’t read traditional Chinese, so we use “cripple” Chinese character (simplified Chinese) in the following: “Please respect our local culture when you are here, without Hong Kong you are all doomed.”

Strongly demand the government to amend the 24th clause of Basic Laws!

Stop the massive invasion of double negative pregnant women from mainland. (double negative = none of the woman’s parents are from HK)

The ad then went viral with versions of the ad created for  Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou [text here was corrected, AT] but the Shenzhen version took a different approach. The text here reads:


You are one of us if you come to Shenzhen.

Welcome to Shenzhen!

Because we are all away from home, so welcome here; because this is a big circle Grandpa Deng drew for all of us (metaphor for making Shenzhen special economic region), so welcome here; because you are part of the momentum that keeps Shenzhen going, so welcome here; because of you are the reason behind our 30 years of prosperity, so welcome here; because we want the whole world to know this, so we use English the say the next: “welcome to hometown Shenzhen”.

Warmly welcome every hard worker to Shenzhen!

We wish all Shenzhen people a happy new year and may all your wishes come true!

Hat tip to Bradley M. Gardner.


Yeah but the difference is Hong Kong is awesome and Shenzen blows

Yes, Hong Kong is awesome if you are a connoisseur of dirty air, dirty water, oceans without fish, skies without birds and poisoned food.

Shut up I'm sick of your anti-China - who the fuck wants to go to South Carolina? I'd take Lan Kwai Fong any day over a night in Charleston

South Carolina? You mean open spaces, clean air, clean water, oceans with fish and healthy food? Yeah sounds awful. Best go to HK where I can have NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

Hong Kong food is awesome and open spaces are just big patches of nothing

You know Hong Kong has tonnes of open spaces - you are aware that most of the Hong Kong area is undeveloped and there are a lot of large parks and hiking trails especially on the outlaying islands.

There are open spaces in Hong Kong. Clearly you do not know what you are talking about.

We cannot all choose our neighbors when it comes to clean air, over fishing etc. but that is not a reason to neg HK. Despite having limited governemnt intervention, its unemployment rate is just over 3%, median salaries on a PPP basis are on parity with the US, educational achievement in PISA terms is in the top 5 (up there with Finland), people are happier, rule of law and protection of property rights stronger, government intsitutions more transparent and less corrupt than the US, the place is more economically free, there are twice as many millioniares per capita as the US, starting a business takes about a day in paper work, and the despite having cage houses a coffin houses, theer are no people living in cars and almost no people living on the street. Not such a bad place

And, as CBBB pointed out, though Charleston is good...LKF and Wyndham Street rock!


Well, Kai, hoist a beer at Dragon-Eye and ogle the Russian "models"--don't let me hold you back.
But this propaganda that Hong Kong is good when it is at the locus of an environmental and health catastrophe is really galling.

What's galling is your smearing of one of the world's great cities - I Won't STAND FOR IT

South Carolina life expectancy 76.5, Hong Kong life expectancy 83.7. That health catastrophe must be really galling.

Sorry but the comparison wasn't with South Carolina. It was with Shenzhen.

If you think that the air quality is better over the border, by all means tell us. If you think that the seas are cleaner on the Mainland say so. If you think there are more fish and birds in Shenzhen than in Hong Kong, I am sure we would all love to hear it. If you think the food is safer, I am sure you could make a case.

If you believe any of those things, I have a bridge to sell you. In Brooklyn. One careful user. Going cheap.

Never mind the SouthCarolinian he's a well-documented Sinophobe frankly I think even if the comparison IS with South Carolina Hong Kong still caps it

Hasn't China been anti-China for half a century or so?

"Shenzen Blows"

My experience of Shenzhen included, Well kept, clean parks, modern well maintained freeways, roads and infrastructure. Talk about the commons, the median spaces between freeways and roads were covered in flowers and lovely hedges, they would be a club med for our American homeless encampments. Excellent subway system, a mostly young and attractive population. Orderly, polite, not a jot of graffiti anywhere to be found, no sense of fear or menace. I witnessed young women walking alone past a construction site, on an unlit alley, without hesitation, or the need to walk one more block to an well lit alternative, and I thought to myself..Hmmm!, no western women in her right mind would do that. Prices are cheap, 20 minute cab rides are ten to fifteen dollars, food is not expensive, 4 and 5 star Hotels are 80 to 100 dollars a night, Telecommunications etc, are first rate, the uncensored part of the web is fast. TV "blows" as it is almost pure candyfloss, with absolutely no substance whatsoever.

But like any other Pearl River Delta city, there is an incredible buzz and dynamism to the place. Like Guangzhou. you can walk any street late into the evening and find it throbbing with activity, stores, restaurants, markets open and busy. My overall impression of the entirety of Gungdong was that the Chinese open for business an hour earlier than the rest of the world, close an hour later, and will work 25% harder during that time. What blows is that I have never in my life stood in a major global metropolis, and seen so very few outsiders as I have in China. It's very unnerving, given the massive impact on far flung lives such economic behemoths have, environmental, economic and otherwise. And finally, if there are that many young people concentrated in one place, then there are so many old people left behind somewhere, and THAT place must "blow".

Sounds like a snorefest

"4 and 5 star Hotels are 80 to 100 dollars a night"

I'd take Chungking Mansion any day

"you can walk any street late into the evening and find it throbbing with activity, stores, restaurants, markets open and busy"

Evening?! HK hasn't even STARTED by then

Unblinkered - I'm not sure you've captured all of Shenzhen. In the factory zone or away from the business centers are not quite as wonderful.

I don't know - does China really welcome migrants from elsewhere, especially poorer regions, into Shenzhen?

Other regions of China, you mean? Yes. Other regions elsewhere, I don't know but from observation on the street I'd say no.

I should have phrased my question differently - do they restrict migration from poorer regions into Shenzhen? You yourself say below that "government permission was required to travel, much less migrate, between cities anyway."

To be clear - I was told that by a Chinese person in Shanghai. I really don't know much about it.

Yes, it's called the hukou system. Migrants from China's poorer inner-provinces are not accorded the services--education, health etc.--of the coastal cities they travel to for better employment opportunities.

Hardly surprising that Shenzhen, with a very limited native population, is welcoming to migrants. And of course there may be certain powerful interests with that view too...

The Shenzhen/Hong Kong "border" might be one of the strangest in the world. You go through full-on international immigration twice to cross from China to China. I wonder whether there really would be a tidal wave if the border was opened.

The ads are interesting, though, in that I thought government permission was required to travel, much less migrate, between cities anyway.

You didn't show all the other posters about Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Shenzhen has no native culture to defend, so they have an advantage being open to migrants. Shanghai or Beijing though have a civic culture which is damaged by migrants. So the cost-benefit calculus is different.
You economists of all people should know something about that.

Economists never take into account culture or humanity

He's taking into account both culture and humanity by presenting these alternative views of immigration. Unless I missed something, he didn't express or imply a preference for either.

I suspect that Tyler wouldn't say "damaged" but rather "changed." Or if he did include that value-judgment he would be a rather strange economist indeed.

If you take the engine out of a car, would an economist say that the utility of the car is "changed?"

I actually think many would, and to me that's a problem. What we have is the economics version of cynicism, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I think it's possible to can stay "value-free" and still understand intrinsic value.

Culture isn't an engine, nor is it ever static.

Shenzhen is a Cantonese speaking region. Cantonese people are noticeably different from other Chinese populations. Their language is distinctly different. Hong Kong people, and perhaps all Cantonese speakers on the mainland although we don't know, tend to like their language. As has been seen by the recent fuss involving a Peking University professor referring to Hong Kong people are "dogs" for insisting mainlanders should speak Cantonese in Hong Kong.

So yes, Shenzhen does have a native culture to defend. One that the government is working to undermine by, for instance, refusing Cantonese any official recognition or for it to be taught in schools or anything except a token presence on TV programmes for old people.

A native culture that will be inevitably destroyed by millions of non-Cantonese people moving to Shenzhen. Cantonese is a doomed language despite being on par with German in terms of native speakers.

Regions don't speak, people do. Most people in Shenzhen aren't native cantonese speakers.
But Cantonese is gaining ground, and its huge everywhere in the province. There's 100% Cantonese speaking TV channels, it's spoken in all public broadcasts. Don't worry about Cantonese, the government isn't really trying to kill it. Check my blog about it.

I recently asked a question about this on The Economist Online. Apparently the Hong Kong case, which only really took off in 2003 when the basic law was changed to allow birthright citizenship for all Chinese nationals regardless of origin, bears an interesting similarity to accusations I heard from El Paso, TX residents. The latter were concerned that Mexican women frequently crossed the border into the US immediately after going into labor so that their children would be born Americans and would have access to US public services.

Most Nativist sentiments are ones that I cannot agree with, but abuse of birthright citizenship is an issue that I've honestly found myself getting ticked off at.

Josh, why point fingers only at Mexican women? I am told that one of the first things many couples form India do when they land on American soil is to go forth and multiply, even before they unpack their luggage.

Are there Indian drug cartels murdering people in Los Angeles?

Do the children of Indian immigrants fail to learn English, fail to finish high school, and fail to finish college?

Do Indian immigrants and their children demand that we produce government forms and public service announcements in Hindi, Tamil, and other Indian languages?

Do Indians form cultural organizations that declare anyone outside their ethnic group to be inferior?

Well, as long as you aren't painting an entire ethnic group with a broad brush.

I "point fingers" only because I mentioned a US-Mexico border city, and specifically talked about the complaints of local residents. But hey, whatever floats your boat. If Indians engage in birthright citizenship tourism, then it's just as bad, but somehow I don't think that much of it happens in El Paso.

I heard one international graduate student studying in the U.S. refer to it as "MBA": Making Babies in America.

Would there be significant opposition to a bill mandating say 9 months of pre-birth parental presence prior to according citizenship rights? From which lobby?

Spandrell says: "Shanghai or Beijing though have a civic culture which is damaged by migrants. So the cost-benefit calculus is different. You economists of all people should know something about that."

What economists know is that if migrants bring about cultural change, there will be costs and benefits and if the benefits exceed the costs then the change is an improvement. Spandrell's mistake is to presume that cultural change imposes only costs

To some people it is only costs, right?

For the government the benefits happen to be greater, that's why migrants are still allowed. The natives feel screwed over.

I wonder who bought the ads in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, ...

I've heard that Sydney Australia was willing to pay something to its citizens if they'd move away from the city. I don't have a reliable source, but I do have the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/29/sydney-pays-people-to-leave

The Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou versions are interesting because they argue against internal immigration within one country. Is this something that will be seen in the United states? No more coastal immigration to the South?

The appropriate analog would be to look at Hawaii before and after it became a US possession.

Hong Kong was economically and socially separate from the mainland for a very long time. If I recall, the southern US wasn't hospitable toward carpetbaggers.

You certainly get people in Oregon complaining about all the Californians who are ruining their nice, uncrowded life.

People in New Hampshire have complained for years about "Massholes" wrecking our state. I

According to some rumors, the central government will soon shift their resources of subsidies to Shenzhen from Hong Kong.

affenkopf - not just "will be seen". It's old news here . Read some of the comments here for some perspective, especially the last comment (by "jazzlover").

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot prevent people from other states moving into their state, so the anti-outsider sentiment remains mostly just a sentiment, and not something enforceable.

China already has migration controls through the hukou system. If left unchecked the masses in the hinterlands would flood the cities and that (supposedly) would damage elite support for economic reform combined with state control. HK is a special case in many respects especially given its various health care and other benefits.

But a short answer to Alex's post is that
Hong Kong is correct.

It is also a special case because the UK negotiated a 'keep it the same for 50 years' agreement before handing it back.

That's another major India-China difference. Indian cities are flooded daily with new hinterland hordes but the Indian law strictly prohibits any restrictions on internal movements ( except on the northern border )

Why is the translation grammatically incorrect?


Your post seems to have a mistake. The Hong Kong ad was the only real one; the other "similar versions" and the Shenzhen ad were all online parodies of the original. In fact, it even says so in the post that you link to yourself.

The real immigrant story in China is Africans "immigrating" to China, especially Guangzhou. There may not be official ways for them to immigrate, but there is a small but quickly growing population of Africans in Guangzhou. Some have legal visas as traders, or students a few are married to locals; many slip thruogh the cracks and remain in China without visa status.

See photo essay here:

Wikipedia here:

Similar story about Russians and Indians I think, mostly traders.

Evolutionary dynamics 101:

Horizontal transmission evolves virulence.

Vertical transmission evolves symbiosis.

A world without borders lets us take the money we've earned fair and square and engage in jurisdictional arbitrage. I mean, after all, those nasty people we're escaping from are just jealous haters. Time to go where people, or at least their leaders, will appreciate what we bring!

The answer?

Instead of politics carried out by any means, including war, let people assortatively migrate to test strongly held beliefs in human ecology (aka practice their religion) and allow them to establish border controls to keep out cross contamination from those who insist on bringing in "diversity". Treat all who actively oppose this emergence of the social sciences out of the dark ages as a biohazard.

Free range people and strong borders, please elaborate.

Horizontal transmission takes place when, due to migratory options, a lineage does not share the reproductive fate of another lineage sharing its environment. For instance, communicable diseases can usually be transmitted (reproduce) without the host infected by the disease reproducing successfully. Horizontal transmission evolves virulence and is frequently associated with parasites.

Kudos to the HK'ers for mocking "crippled characters." One of the saddest things about modern mainland China is the way the country's elite spit on their own traditions and culture. The bastardization known as "simplified characters" is one of the more obvious ways modern China is not truly "China" in the way Taiwan and Hong Kong still are.

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