LIU Xing, Jack (Jockey Club Academy Hall)

If you ask a foreigner what the Chinese are like, he or she may say that the Chinese are good at maths, karaoke and Kung fu. That is a stereotype or a kind of generalization. China is a very homogeneous society with 92% of its population Han Chinese. But there are other ethnic minorities too. This year 15 ethnic minority students came to CityU to study and are living in our Student Residence. I talked to three of them and they shared a few questions about their ethnicity which they answered thousands of times.

Do you ride a camel to go to school?

Xializhati is from Xinjing province in northwestern China, where most Chinese Uyghur live. She was asked this question probably because there is a lot of desert in Xinjiang and it is not as developed as Bejing and Shanghai. The answer is of course No. Xializhati lives in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, and she took the bus to go to school. City life in Xinjiang is just like that in other Chinese cities.

Is Xinjiang dangerous?

In July 2009 a series of violent riots took place in Urumqi. It was a clash between ethnic groups and social classes. After that Xinjiang was regarded by many as a place of danger. But Xializhati said that Urumqi is safe. The riots were partly caused by separatists. Now Xinjiang is safe and she lived there with no worries at all.

Is your last name Duan?

Duan is the name of a family which once established a kingdom in ancient southwestern China. It is well known probably because the Duan family was in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部), a famous Chinese martial arts and chivalry novel. Chen Baisha is from Dali in Yunnan province, which used to be the capital city of the Duan family's kingdom. But he is not from the Duan family. As we can see, he is from Chen family

Do people really sell drugs on the street in Yunnan?

"Yes, people do sell drugs on the street. If you want packaged high quality drugs, just go to our supermarket". Chen was just kidding. Bordering on the world famous opium producing area called ナ古the Golden Triangle, Yunnan does have a higher rate of drug-related crime. But that does not mean it affects people's daily life.

Are you a member of royalty?

Not just Chen Baisha, Jiang Suhang was also often asked if she is a member of royalty or not.Jiang is a Manchu Chinese. Her ancestors established the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty in China, and ruled China for about 300 years. But she is not a royal member but also just another Chinese girl. However, she does feel concerned about her ethnic group. After hundreds of years of integration with the Han people, the Manchu are losing their uniqueness. There is only a handful of people who can speak the Manchu language now and her life is not different from Han Chinese.

The list of questions can go on and on but you can already get a sense of how people can ask such questions. To some extent, it is understandable, since most Han Chinese live their whole life among Han Chinese. But in places like Hong Kong, we have to interact with people from all over the world and learn to understand and be sensitive. That is probably one the most important experiences that our Student Residence can offer.