Hundreds of Filipinos marched through central Hong Kong yesterday to protest a newspaper column denounced by the Philippine community as representative of racism they say is endemic in the Chinese territory.
Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao (曹捷) made a public apology earlier this week, saying he had not intended to insult Filipinos with what he characterized as a satirical article poking fun at Hong Kongers’ poor treatment of their maids.
But hundreds of Filipinos still protested yesterday in the Central financial district. Marching peacefully, many wearing red T-shirts, they carried signs that said “No Chip shots at Filipinos” and “We are workers, not slaves.”
About 130,000 Filipinos work as maids in wealthy Hong Kong to help support their families back home. They make a minimum monthly salary of HK$3,580 (US$462).
In the article published on Friday in the weekly HK Magazine, Tsao wrote he was so angered by the Philippines’ claim on the disputed Spratly Islands, which China also claims, that he summoned his Philippine maid to give her a lecture.
Calling the Philippines “a nation of servants” that shouldn’t challenge China, he wrote that he would be forced to fire her in the event of a war between the two countries.
Protest organizer Eman Villanueva said Tsao’s column was an example of larger racism toward ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
“This is also beyond Chip Tsao because Chip Tsao’s article is just a symptom. It’s not the main problem. The problem is racism. The problem is the unfair treatment of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong,” Villanueva told Hong Kong’s Cable TV in an interview.
Tsao said yesterday he had no further comment.
Philippine activists criticized the article and the Philippine government put Tsao on an immigration blacklist.
“He targeted and insulted the Philippine people, the Philippine nation and in particular Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong,” Villanueva said in a phone interview.
Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Ed Malaya said yesterday the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong had recommended that the ban on Tsao visiting the country be lifted after he apologized and “indicated interest to visit the country some day.”