For some reason, I am unable to vote in this poll. However, I would like to comment on this issue. I have lived in Hong Kong for about 27 years, and have tutored English on a part time basis for most of that time. We have three Chinese sons who we adopted here. They are native English speakers as well as native Cantonese speakers. All three of them taught summer school English, but getting those jobs was difficult because of their Chinese faces. I, on the other hand, with my blue eyes and blond hair, cannot get rid of students. Total strangers have actually stopped me on the street and asked me to tutor them or their kids! To them, my Western face was all the qualifications they needed. The kind of discrimination you speak of is alive and rampant in Hong Kong.
Just so you know, Ele, I am qualified to teach. I have also seen "native speakers" do some unspeakable things in the name of "class work". It drives me nuts, because I know that my Chinese sons can do a much better job.
This stupid and harmful situation is often justified by excuses such as "the market decides" or "it's what our clents expect" or even, "it's a cultral thing and we can't change it." Even worse, many schools actually use the myth of "native-speakers" as a selling point...
Kevin, this is precisely the situation on Hong Kong. Years ago, I was recruited to work in a new Chinese/English kindergarten in our housing estate. They came looking for me. The principal begged me to teach, basing her decision on the fact that I could speak Cantonese and that I was a native English speaker. Then she proceeded to recruit students, using my Western face as her drawing card. There were other teachers who were perfectly capable of teaching kindergarten level English, but they were not allowed to even help me, much less teach English.
Even now, the situation is not any better. One of the driving forces behind the discrimination is parental expectations. If the face is Western, everything is okay. If the face is Chinese, the school is obviously inferior.
I apologize for this rather emotional response. Your query really hit a raw nerve with me. If there is anything I can do to help the cause from Hong Kong, please let me know.