Two out of five of the city's people born in the 1990s want economic but not cultural integration with the mainland, a survey has found.
In a phone survey conducted late last year by the Ideas Centre, an apolitical non-profit organisation, 41 per cent of the 1,014 people born between 1990 and 1999 polled said they believe that Hong Kong should tighten its economic ties with mainland China.
But the same percentage of those polled were against cultural integration for fear the city would lose its core values, such as freedom of speech.
"Integrating both sides provides economic advantages, but … there are too many mainland tourists [in the city]. Hongkongers cannot use their own facilities," one respondent was quoted as saying.
The centre said the recent anti-mainland sentiment in the city may have contributed to this refusal to integrate culturally.
"They are not very happy about all the social issues and problems caused by mainlanders in the city, like the mainland mothers without ties to Hong Kong illegally giving birth here and the parallel goods trade affecting Sheung Shui district," said the centre's executive director Anna Lai.
"All these issues are not acceptable to [these young people]," she said.
"Scandals related to the mainland circulate so fast and are sometimes even magnified on the internet," said the centre's principal researcher Dr Elvis Luk Wai-ki. "This may give young people a bad impression of people from mainland China.
About 60 per cent of those polled said they were unwilling to work or study on the mainland.
But 63 per cent indicated that they were willing to study abroad while 40 per cent said they were would not mind working overseas.
More than 60 per cent of the young people said they enjoyed the lifestyle or culture of other countries, with Japan and Britain topping their list.
But only 6 per cent said they liked the lifestyle at home.
Luk said young people tended to prefer Western lifestyles as Westerners appear to lead a slower pace of life and generally have a better balance of work and life.