Hong Kong Residents Identifying as Chinese Hits Record Low

People attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing. - Large crowds turned out for a mass candlelight vigil in Hong Kong on June 4 evening marking 30 years since China's bloody …
PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images

A survey released by the University of Hong Kong on Thursday found a record low number of residents identifying themselves as “Chinese.” A huge majority of residents said they were not proud of holding Chinese citizenship, with the number soaring to 90 percent among young people.

“In-depth analyses show that the younger the respondents, the less likely they feel proud of becoming a national citizen of China, and also the more negative they are toward the Central Government’s policies on Hong Kong,” noted Edward Tai, senior data analyst for the Public Opinion Program at Hong Kong University (HKUPOP). 

Tai said the results, summarized by the Hong Kong Free Press, clearly reflect the impact of the massive demonstrations against an extradition bill that was seen as a threat to the autonomy of the island:

In the survey, 53 per cent of the interviewees identified as Hongkongers, while 11 per cent identified as Chinese. 12 per cent identified as “Chinese in Hong Kong”, and 23 per cent identified themselves as “Hongkongers in China.”

When asked if they were proud of being a national citizen of China, 71 per cent said “no” and 27 per cent said “yes.” 90 per cent in the age group 18-29 answered “no.”

“All these indicators are at their record lows since the handover. Director of HKUPOP Robert Chung feels sorry and helpless at the result,” the polling unit said in a press release whose wording suggests they expect the poll to be studied carefully in Beijing.

Taiwan News suggested Chung has good reason to feel glum, since HKUPOP “will soon cease operations due to reorganization,” and it is “not known whether this survey will continue in the future.”

Taiwan News also found an interesting aspect of the poll: the headline-grabbing question described by the Hong Kong Free Press limited respondents to only four choices of identity, those being Hong Konger, Chinese, Chinese in Hong Kong, and Hong Konger in China. In a separate poll question with more identification options, the leading choice was still Hong Konger, followed by Asian, global citizen, “member of the Chinese race,” Chinese, and lastly “citizen of the People’s Republic of China.” Such low scores for the concepts of both “Chinese” and “citizen of the PRC” are a double slap to the Chinese Communist Party.

Observers like Mary Hui at Quartz took the poll as strong evidence that China’s quest to gradually assimilate Hong Kong is doomed, as it arrived just a few days before the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the United Kingdom to China on July 1.

Demonstrators surely have the date circled on their calendars, as they will appreciate the value of capturing the world’s attention with massive rallies during the anniversary commemoration. 

“Already, protesters have co-opted imagery from Chinese Communist Party propaganda to urge people to hijack and disrupt the flag-raising ceremony, during which both the Chinese and Hong Kong flags are honored, and to drown out the Chinese national anthem by singing rival anthems from different countries,” Hui reported.

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