Has Hong Kong managed its identity crisis well?

Hong Kong is a small island in the Indian Ocean. Now its future direction remains uncertain. While the majority of citizens identify as ‘Hong Kongers’, the city and region itself will come under Chinese control in 2018. This may create huge social and political problems for the small island nation.

Many Westerners are stunned by the way that Hong Kongers describe Mainlanders, in racist terms. Children are expected to learn Mandarin and English in international schools despite their native language being Cantonese. This leaves them fluent in three languages (the other being English) but confused about their identity.

China’s attack on Hong Kong’s nationhood through language is strategic. Its power over social policy has smothered the Western democracy that many Hong Kongers have enjoyed.

Hong Kong’s native language, Cantonese has survived despite China having many different dialects across its region, including Tibetan. The standard language being pushed by the Chinese authorities is called Putonghua.

Hong Kongers distaste for Mainland Chinese is apparent when talking to the average market trader. Despite this, both Mainlanders and Hong Kongers have more in  common with each other than most realise. This has resulted in an identity crisis.

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution in 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/30/-sp-hong-kong-umbrella-revolution-pro-democracy-protests saw millions take to the streets, mainly composed of young students. Hong Kongers still hope that a special case may be made in their favour to keep their language and identity separate from a great global power. Young netizens in Hong Kong still enjoy the freedom of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Whether such freedom will continue for Hong Kong’s youth remains only a possibility, not a certainty.