Some See a Success Story. Others See a ‘Thieving’ Undocumented Immigrant

Betty Wong is young, but her life journey thus far is as dramatic as a Hollywood movie. She was smuggled into Hong Kong from mainland China in 2003 when she was 8 years old to reunite with her parents, who were both Hong Kong residents. According to local media's report, her parents had violated the one-child policy on the mainland and thus did not have the legal document to apply for an entry permit.

As an undocumented immigrant, the local immigration authority only provided her with a “walking paper,” which is a document for refugees. Without the identification card, she had trouble receiving elementary education and medical care.

However, she worked hard and became a medical student at the city's top university – the Hong Kong University – and the immigration department finally issued a Hong Kong resident identity card to her.

She recently wrote all this on Facebook, dedicating about 10,000 words to the story. Accompanying her post was a photo of her taken outside the immigration department. In the photo, she wore a sweater with the word “holy shit” printed on the front, which has been interpreted by many netizens as a disrespectful gesture.

Betty Wong wrote her life journey in her Facebook with a photo taken outside the Hong Kong Immigration Department. The post was deleted because of online attack but the photo has been circulated widely online. This one via the Housenews.

Betty Wong posted a personal narrative of her life journey to Hong Kong from China on Facebook along with photo taken outside the Hong Kong immigration office. The photo has circulated widely online. This one via Housenews.

But that wasn't the only criticism Wong received. A large number of web users attacked her background as an undocumented immigrant and accused her of “stealing” Hong Kong's resources or not showing enough gratitude.

The online sentiment has very much to do with growing social and political conflict between Hong Kong and China. Universal suffrage in Hong Kong remains a deferred dream. Currently, not all legislators and leaders in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong are elected directly by the people, and communist Beijing exerts much influence over the process. 

The rush of speculative capital and mainland Chinese tourists is seen by local residents as eroding their already cramped city. The resentment is on the rise, so much so that a conspiracy has taken hold that immigrants coming from mainland China are being sent by the Chinese government to take over the city.

Following the barrage of attacks online, Wong's post was deleted.

Dadazim's blog post captured netizens’ anger towards her story:

香港人一向天真,給人賣了,還幫人數錢。 剝掉那些賣弄的奮鬥包裝,其實就是一個大 陸女子偷渡、違法,再奪去了一個香港人的 醫科學位;成功變成香港人之後,再上網大 義凜然炫耀一番。

Hong Kong people is always naive. They have been betrayed [by the mainland Chinese government] and now they are paying its debt. Take away the cover of “personal struggle to become successful”, this is a story about a mainland Chinese woman who broke the law, was smuggled to Hong Kong and stole a medical student position which should belong to a Hong Konger. After she obtained her Hong Kong citizenship, she showed off her story online.

好慘?世上好慘的人,何止Betty?非洲很多 人吃不飽,四十歲之前就死,香港為甚麼不 幫?香港有責任為別人的不幸和不幸家庭狀 況埋單?Betty Wong似乎分不清老奉與酌處 理的分別。香港沒有欠她,給她身份證和醫 學院學位,不敢叫她感恩載德,但一個有羞恥心的人起碼不會佔了便宜還覺巧威威,四處宣揚,顧昐自豪的。

Miserable? So many people are miserable in this world. Not just Betty. In Africa, so many are starving, and they die before they are 40. Why doesn't Hong Kong give them assistance? Do we have the responsibility to pay the debt of someone else's misery and family status? Betty Wong cannot distinguish the difference between obligation and discretion. Hong Kong does not owe her anything. We dare not ask her to express gratitude for giving her an identity card and medical school admission. But anyone with a sense of shame should not show off with pride after taking advantage of all this.

In response to users’ emotional comments, Lui Hin Ying wrote on online news platform Housenews:

Betty的爸爸是香港人,而媽媽和姊姊都能從 合法途徑到香港定居,為什麼她不也從合法 途徑來港而要選擇偷渡呢?更有趣的是,我 公公婆婆那一代也是游水偷渡到香港 的,technically speaking,如果我公公婆婆 是賊,那我算不算是賊贓?

Betty's father is a Hong Kong citizen and her mother and sister have migrated to Hong Kong through legal channels. How come she chose to sneak into Hong Kong rather than via a legal route? The funny thing is my grandparents also snuck into Hong Kong. Technically speaking, if they are thieves, am I also a thief?

更更有趣的是,香港貴為國際大都市,思維甚至行為上卻極度排外。本身明明是個移民之都,整座城市都是「賊」打造成的,卻捉 賊喊賊,將所有新移民妖魔化為搶資源,搶學位的蝗蟲。

It is an interesting phenomena that in Hong Kong, an international city, people's behavior and thoughts are so exclusionary. The city is built by immigrants, the so-called “thieves”, now the thieves are accusing others of being thieves and demonizing new immigrants for robbing resources. The locusts which rob university degrees.

Yeung Zi Wah wrote on her blog that she hoped the Hong Kong people can address the policy problem rather than point fingers at an individual:

我們應該透過「批鬥」Betty Wong這個人來 發洩近來中共對香港種種的入侵,還是應該 從這事件中思考本土主義如何脫離族群仇 恨,回歸正路,在公共政策上找出對抗中共 入侵的方法。我想大家心中有數。

Should we “attack” Betty Wong as an individual to express our anger towards the invasion of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, or should we reflect upon the correct path for our local agenda, disentangle ourselves from ethnic resentment and work on a policy level against invasion? I think we all have the answer.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.