Hong Kong students shun 'Chinese' identity, says Baptist U report

Survey findings show that not one of 93 students polled wanted to be known simply as 'Chinese'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 9:00am

Students are the city's only social group that completely shuns being known as "Chinese", preferring instead the terms "Hong Kong Chinese" or "a Hong Kong person", a report has revealed.

The Baptist University's latest Hong Kong Transition Project findings, released yesterday, follow a recent rise in nativism, where proponents - many of them young adults - seek to preserve local culture and values over what they call an intrusion of mainland ones.

As part of the project, a poll conducted in February found that of 93 mainly post-secondary students, two-thirds chose "Hong Kong Chinese" as their preferred identity. This was followed by 20 per cent opting for "Hong Kong persons", and 10 per cent selecting "Chinese Hongkonger". None wanted to be known as simply "Chinese".

The report said those aged between 18 and 29 - which accounts for one in five Hongkongers - outnumbered all other age groups in expressing "little to no trust at all" in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's handling of relations with the public, the poor and the unemployed.

Only 22 per cent of them had some or great faith that Leung would implement a fair electoral system to select his successor.

The report also warned that Leung's administration had to speed up consultations for electoral reforms. "Delaying constitutional reforms for the 2016 Legislative Council and 2017 Chief Executive elections until the latest possible date will see this disaffected generation continue to grow in numbers," it stated.

"Unless the Chief Executive and the central government take steps - very soon - to understand this new, post-1997 generation ... they face a growing probability of greater public distrust and disaffection."

The report also found a large proportion of civil servants among those dissatisfied with the government's performance. About 76 per cent of 63 civil servants polled - the highest proportion of all occupations surveyed - said policymaking was unfair.

Professor Michael DeGolyer, head of the project, said the post-handover civil service was notably worse than during the colonial times. "There was a better relationship between ministers and civil servants under British rule. They worked very hard to get the civil servants to support the government," he said.