'Chinese Hongkongers' feel stronger sense of belonging

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 11:36am

More people see themselves as both Chinese and Hong Kong citizens, while the overall sense of belonging to the city is at its strongest since the former British colony returned to China 15 years ago, a poll showed.

Academics attributed the change to the recent discussions on national education and Hong Kong's autonomy, which they said might have deepened the feeling of integration between Hong Kong and the mainland.

"It shows that more people recognise themselves in both identities after the recent hot discussion," said Ma Ngok, a Chinese University political scientist. The survey by the University of Hong Kong asked about 1,000 respondents to rate the strength of their ethnic identity.

Almost half of the respondents, or 49 per cent, see themselves as "Chinese Hong Kong citizens", up 15 percentage points from a same survey six months ago. The figure is the highest since the handover.

It is slightly higher than the number recorded in 2007 when 48 per cent of respondents in a same survey saw themselves as both Chinese and Hong Kong citizens.

At the same time, both those who see themselves as "Chinese Hong Kong citizens" and those who identify themselves purely as "Hong Kong citizens" have a stronger sense of belonging to Hong Kong than at any other time since the handover in 1997.

The average score in this category was 81.7 out of 100. People aged between 18 and 29 tend to give higher marks than those who are 30 years or above.

The second highest score - at 75.6 points - is for the identity as "members of the Chinese race". Being "Asians" came third with 72.7 marks. Being "Chinese" is last at 72.4 marks.

People who see themselves purely as "Chinese citizens" also increased from 18 per cent to 21 per cent.

In comparison, about 27 per cent of respondents now see themselves only as "Hong Kong citizens", marking a sharp drop of 19 percentage points from the survey six months ago.

"In other words, 60 per cent of respondents identify themselves as 'Hong Kong people' in the broader sense - either as Chinese Hong Kong or just Hong Kong citizens," the report said.

Ma said the recent debates over identity helped raise people's awareness.

Another political scientist, James Sung Lap-kung of City University, added: "They [Hong Kong people] are becoming aware that the city's affairs are not in entire control of Hongkongers. It [Hong Kong] is inseparable from China."