Do Hong Kong people feel connected to Mainland Chinese? The debate in Hong Kong is about the «hundred years of humiliation» that began with the First Opium War in 1840 against Great Britain. This war ended with Hong Kong being leased to the British for 150 years. In a recent survey, only a third of young people identifying as Chinese identified themselves as Chinese. Although the issue is complicated, many experts agree that Hong Kong has lost its cultural identity.
Confucian values are deeply embedded in the culture of East Asian nations, including China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and various territories settled by Han Chinese. In the past few decades, Confucianism has been experiencing a revival within the Chinese scholarly community, and many Confucian churches have been established in the territory. These churches are a bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China, as Hong Kong people are drawn to the values of Confucianism and are proud to be affiliated with it.
The New Confucian concept of cosmic unity represents an ecological turn in China and the world. Its emphasis on environmental consciousness is a welcome corrective to the modernist discourse that has reduced Confucianism to secular humanism. Modernists have misused Confucianism to justify authoritarian polity. New Confucianism must incorporate both religious and naturalist aspects to reanimate Confucianism and the philosophies it represents.
In the traditional Confucian worldview, each individual has a particular position about others. They stand simultaneously in several relationships: they owe reverence to the senior, while the senior owes reverence to the junior. A husband must show respect and benevolence to his wife and vice versa. The theme of mutuality is still alive in East Asian cultures today.
A recent study has demonstrated the relationship between Confucian values and modernization in China. Confucianism is a part of the Asian development model, and its latent role in non-Confucian cultures throughout modern East Asia makes them more competitive and efficient. But without a solid Confucian cultural base, these countries would not have modernized as rapidly as they have. So, to maintain the connection between the two regions, more Hong Kong citizens must be open to the concept of Confucianism.
There is no doubt that the Pan-Chinese identity of Hong Kong’s people is in a state of flux. While supporters of political independence remain a minority, the overwhelmingly young and new generation identifies as Hong Kong. Beijing «trusts» the Hongkongers to vote if given universal suffrage. However, the events surrounding the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown suggest a possible evolution. The young generation of Hong Kong may have become aware of the tensions between pan-Chinese and democratic values.
However, the repression of minorities by Beijing has long been a cause for concern in Hong Kong. However, pro-Beijing forces in the legislative elections have reaped few victories. Pan-democratic are now expressing displeasure over Beijing’s repression of Hong Kong’s minority community. And if they have the votes, the Chinese government will likely get its way.
The values and traditions of the Hong Kong people are deeply rooted in Confucianism. The people of Hong Kong place great importance on family solidarity, courtesy, and saving face. The Cantonese culture from the neighboring province of Guangdong is heavily influential in Hong Kong’s mainstream culture, though the city also has a few communities of other ethnic groups. But despite the influence of the Cantonese language on Hong Kong’s society, the Pan-Chinese identity of Hong Kong people has remained intact.
During the British colonial era, Hong Kong’s local identity was largely unnoticed and was related to the Chinese national identity. This polarization led to growing opposition to Beijing’s attempts at top-down assimilation. The localist movement was formed in the early 1990s to counter Chinese political interference and encourage Hong Kong to be independent. The localist movement was born out of this resistance and remained strong until independence in 1997.
Mainland Chinese influence on Hong Kong’s culture
Mainland Chinese influence on Hong Kong’s cultural heritage dates back to the 1970s. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and enjoys limited autonomy defined by the Basic Law. Its «one country, two systems» policy allows capitalism and socialism to coexist within one country. Hong Kong’s economy has relatively low tax rates and free trade compared to mainland China’s, which is conservative in its stock market.
Historically, Hong Kong was semi-independent, and its culture developed out of Han culture. The Han ethnic group first expanded its territory from the Beijing area of China about 4,000 years ago. It was eventually conquered by the Qin Empire (221-206 BC) troops. Over the next two millennia, successive dynasties ruled over the region. Mainland Chinese culture influenced Hong Kong’s culture in several ways.
The Mainland Chinese government continues to assert its political authority over local Hong Kong politics. In 2014, a protest campaign against mainland China’s proposed reforms in the Chief Executive’s position failed to gain any concessions from Beijing. Hong Kong maintains a separate legal system and judicial system. It has its proprietary police force and district organizations. However, it reverts to Chinese customary law for land tenure.
Although the two cultures share similar cultural practices, Hong Kong has distinct features in each culture. The Mainland influences can be seen in everyday behavior, demeanor, and attitudes. In addition to Cantonese, Hong Kongers tend to be more polite in public. They are also more accustomed to wearing western clothing and attending Western-style restaurants. The Mainland has influenced Hong Kong’s culture due to its former British colonial status.
Impact of economic development on Hong Kong’s culture
Hong Kong underwent rapid industrialization in the 1950s, a process that captivated the imagination of historians and economists. However, as with most industrialized countries, this transformation was not without drawbacks. In the 1950s, the government introduced ambitious public housing and land reclamation plans to house immigrants and encourage industry. Public housing subsidized the industrial sector but also restrained the cost of living. Its government also pursued an ambitious public education program, establishing over 300,000 new primary school places between 1950 and 1961. By 1961, over 99.8% of the school-age population attended primary education, although free universal primary education was not implemented until 1971.
While the government of Hong Kong must consider the economic impacts of economic development, it must be realistic about how the tourism boom will affect the city’s culture. It must devise plans and policies to cope with the upcoming scenario and minimize adverse effects on the city’s culture and people. While economic development has positive aspects, Hong Kong’s culture should not be sacrificed. The government needs to educate the local population about the benefits of tourism while preserving its culture.
The interwar period in China has had disastrous consequences for Hong Kong. The Kuomintang (KMT) took a decade to create a republican nation-state after 1911. In the 1930s, the Great Depression shattered China’s relations with the outside world. Then the Sino-Japanese War lasted two years after World War II, and China fell into a deep economic crisis in 1947. After the war, the CCP’s civil war with the KMT pushed China into a slowdown in trade. The result was a slowdown in Hong Kong.
Impurity in Hong Kong identity
Despite its Chinese majority, over ninety percent of Hong Kong’s population refers to themselves as «Hong Konger first» and «Asian second.» This dichotomy is often problematic, and the Chinese Communist Party has wrestled with it since 1997. But recent student-led protests suggest that Beijing’s attempts to change Hong Kong’s identity have backfired. The answer is not a simple one.
The transnational culture of Hong Kong has become increasingly fluid and malleable. As a result, its identity has become easily invaded by foreign forces. This instability has led to an identity crisis. In Hong Kong, globalization has been viewed in both a pessimistic and optimistic light. While it does have the potential to enhance local values, it complicates them and exposes them to foreign ideas.
In the June poll, researchers from the University of Hong Kong asked respondents to identify themselves as a Hong-Kong person, a Hong Kong-Chinese person, or both. The results showed that people in Hong Kong identified with all three of these terms. But this is not the only issue. The poll showed that only half of those surveyed referred to themselves as «Hong Kong people.» A third of them described themselves as «Hong Kong-Chinese,» while one-fifth said they identified as «Chinese.»
After Mao Zedong took power, Hong Kong residents began to feel anxious about the Communist regime. They developed an identity that placed them above mainland Chinese citizens and looked down upon the ordinary people who struggled under poverty and political deprivation. As a result, the perception of Hong Kong as cosmopolitan, rich, and capitalist was shaped by this identity. However, this identity grew more in the 1970s.