The Equal Opportunities Commission has called for measures to help Hong Kong’s “marginalised” ethnic minorities after studies showed the community is facing hurdles in securing their identities and success.

The EOC released two reports on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong on Wednesday, highlighting the difficulties they face in education and employment.

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An ethnic minority group protesting during last year’s Umbrella Movement.

The reports say the city’s ethnic minorities, with a population of nearly 200,000 – excluding foreign domestic helpers – find language barriers one of the biggest issues in their attempt to integrate in society. The lack of Cantonese skills mean that businesses run by ethnic minorities find it hard to attract local customers, one of the reports says. Language is also a big issue for minority students applying for higher education because some universities use Cantonese as their interview language, the studies find.

The reports also say ethnic minority entrepreneurs are often reluctant to approach banks for loans due to “institutional barriers and perceived racial discrimination.”

The EOC urged the government to roll out supportive measures for ethnic minority businesses to succeed. “For example, they are able to access formal sources of financing as well as be provided with business advice, support and training,” says Ferrick Chu, Head of Policy, Research and Training Division at the EOC in a press release.

“We definitely do not want to see future generations of our ethnic minority communities to continue to feel marginalised as well as to face other hurdles to equal opportunities. To redress the problem, our government should have a holistic approach in formulating policies and measures for the empowerment of our ethnic minority community,” Chu says.

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Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.