Ms Hsiao-Hung Pai 白曉紅女士


Date 27 January 2010 Interviewed by Nigel Mathers
Language English    

Ms Hsiao-Hung Pai was born in Taiwan, and came to Britain in 1991. She holds masters' degrees from the University of Wales (Critical & Cultural Theory), University of Durham (East Asian politics and history) and the University of Westminster (Journalism, with distinction).

Hsiao-Hung Pai works as a freelance journalist, writing for the Guardian, Feminist Review and many UK-Chinese publications.

She translated and wrote introduction for Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory (by Chris Weedon), published in 1994 by Laureate Books in Taipei, Taiwan (second printing in March 1997). She also translated and wrote introduction for The Return of the National Question (by Chris Harman), published in 2001 by Vanguard Publishing, Taipei. She was on the editorial collective of Feminist Review (UK) between 2005-2008.

Hsiao-Hung Pai covered the Morecambe Bay cockle-picking tragedy for the Guardian. In order to understand the plight of other Chinese migrants, she went undercover. Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield's recent film, Ghosts, was based on her work.

Hsiao-Hung Pai is the author of Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour (published by Penguin on 28 April 2008), shortlisted for the Orwell Book Prize 2009.

She was shortlisted for EMMA's 'Best Print Journalism' in 2004, and won a Feature of the Year commendation from Work World Media Awards in 2007. Hsiao-Hung Pai is a member of the National Union of Journalists. She works mainly in London and the UK.

Reflections on the Evolution and History of the British Chinese Workforce: January 27th 2010. An interview (by Hsiao-Hung Pai).

When I was invited to an interview for this project, I was thinking whether I would be one of the many "case studies", to be examined and analyzed for a piece of research. I did not think it was going to be fun because I am a very shy person and I do not usually find it easy to talk about my own issues (and my years of living in Britain have certainly deepened that sense of insecurity).

But the interview and the entire communication process between me and the team turned out to be a really positive and enjoyable learning experience.

My interviewer, Professor Nigel Mathers, a very intelligent and caring person, talked to me sensitively about my past and my experience as an immigrant, and tried to encourage me to respond more openly. He talked as if he understood me.

During the eighteen years in Britain, I have learned to deal with isolation and the feeling of being alienated from mainstream society. I have learned to not open myself. But with Professor Mathers, I felt that I could express some of my personal feelings. I felt that I could tell him more if we could spend more time to talk.

Everyone in the team has so much to say. I found the communication between team members very interesting – it was in itself a discussion about migrant communities and their experiences. Everyone has a great story to tell.