Do fence me in

Do fence me in

Negative sentiments towards mainlanders have been running high in Hong Kong. South China Morning Post columnist Peter Kammerer compares locals' attitudes to the mauer im kopf, or "wall in the head", of former East and West Germans.

First, I cannot say that his comparison between the physical wire mesh of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border and the Berlin Wall is exactly apt. The barbed-wire boundary is there for practical reasons. Pregnant women and others from the mainland try to sneak in every day.

Second, it seems that Mr Kammerer has got the proper sequence of doing things wrong. Why would he think that tearing down the barbed-wire boundary between Hong Kong and the mainland is going to stop us from thinking "about differences and [passing] such feelings to [our] children"? Things should be done the other way round - build up mutual trust and appreciation first, then pull down the fence.

I look forward to the day when Hong Kong can become "something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down". But until that happens, until China teaches its people what proper conduct is, the truth remains that "good fences make good neighbours''.

Francine was first runner-up in the Senior Section of Heep Yunn School's SCMP Writing Competition.

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