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Hong Kong localism and independence

Residents identifying as ‘Hongkongese’ believe city’s high degree of autonomy under threat

About two-thirds of that group regarded mainland government as biggest threat to city according to survey, while 30 per cent of all respondents were prepared to join localist social activism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 11:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 3:04pm

More people who identify themselves as “Hongkongese” believe the city’s high degree of autonomy is under threat compared to those who consider themselves “Chinese” or a mix of the two ­labels, according to a survey.

About two-thirds of the former group also regard the government on the mainland as the biggest threat, followed by the city’s government and then the central government’s liaison office.

Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang, associate director of the academy of Hong Kong studies at the Education University, randomly polled 1,011 people with the help of the public opinion programme at the University of Hong Kong.

Asked to rank the importance of a high degree of autonomy from one to 10, respondents scored an average of 8.1, but those who identified themselves as “Hongkongese” scored a slightly higher 8.23.

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About 81 per cent of “Hongkongese” felt the city’s high ­degree of autonomy was under threat, while only 37 per cent of those who called themselves “Chinese” and 53 per cent of those who chose a mix of the two labels felt the same way.

Some 30 per cent of all respondents said they were prepared to join localist social activism.

Disappointment with China and in turn, rejection, are the ­basic foundations of the so-called localist ideology
Brian Fong, Education University

The results, to be published in the academic journal Modern China next month, were partially unveiled at a discussion forum ­organised by university students on Tuesday entitled “The Way Forward: Hongkongers’ Identity, ‘Autonomy’ and ‘Independence’”.

Also speaking on the forum panel were pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and ­Demosisto member and activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung.

Fong said the findings suggested that the rise of localism was a result of an “expression of resistance” to encroachment from the mainland in local politics, rather than an outright demand for ­independence.

“Disappointment with China and in turn, rejection, are the ­basic foundations of the so-called localist ideology,” he said.

Wong said many of the city’s youth had lost faith in the “one country, two systems” policy.

But Leung said doing things to irk ­Beijing would only exacerbate problems. Wong, citing the example of Macau, argued however that ­doing less would not bring about more democracy.