Who do you think is more impressive…?

White person Chinese person
Born and grown up in Hong Kong speaking Cantonese fluently
(HK accent)
Born and grown up in America speaking English fluently
(American accent)

I guess neither is as impressive as the other. However, the Chinese-American is considered a normal everyday ocurrence.

Native Cantonese speaker (Caucasian):

Sharon Balcombe was born in Hong Kong, received full Chinese education, and speaks Cantonese as her mother tongue.

Video 1: 09:26min Video 2: 06:59min
Sharon Balcombe PART 1 Sharon Balcombe PART 2

Imagine every day having people walk up complementing your command of Cantonese. “Where did you learn? You are so smart!” Turn the table around, when we see a Chinese person speaking English with an American accent; we consider it normal, right? So imagine going up to every Chinese looking person in America saying “Where did you learn English? You are so smart!”

One may consider English to be the “international language” of the world, hence its normal for Chinese to speak English. For a few Chinese, a white person saying a few basic sentences of Cantonese will turn heads and receive praises. Even trying to take a taxi or buy some food may become a marathon task resulting in complements, questions or conversations about your life history.

When I told several Chinese that you don’t have to be Chinese to speak Cantonese like an ethnic Chinese, they quickly rejected my comment. These people were convinced that the best they’ve seen was Ho Kwok Wing (河國榮) - an Aussie in Hong who speaks Advanced fluent Cantonese with an accent. They insisted that its just not possible to have a native cantonese speaker who is Caucasian.

Since so few non-Chinese are able to speak a decent apptitude of Cantonese, many people cannot imagine it possible for Caucasians to speak Cantonese natively.