The ongoing protests in Hong Kong appear to be having an effect on the locals’ sense of identity, with fewer Hongkongers recognizing themselves as ‘Chinese’, according to a poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The South China Morning Post reports that only 8.9 percent of the 810 people included in the telephone poll, identified themselves as ‘Chinese’, reportedly a record low for Chinese identity in the Special Administrative Region.
The university has completed ten identity polls since 1996, with the highest number of people identifying themselves as ‘Chinese’ being in 1997 during Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, when 32 percent of Hongkongers described themselves as ‘Chinese’.
Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of the university’s school of journalism and communication, is very clear in his belief that the low sense of Chinese identity at this moment in time is as a result of Occupy Central and the way that it has grabbed the attention of social media users.
“Our survey also found that social media has a big impact on the teenagers. Their sense of identity is affected by what they read,” he said.
According to the results of the poll, which gives participants four choices–‘Chinese’, ‘Hongkonger’, ‘Hongkonger but also Chinese’ and ‘Chinese but also Hongkonger’, the percentage of people identifying themselves as ‘Hongkongers’ is at 26.8 percent. This is the second highest number ever recorded by the survey, with the highest being back in 1998, when 28.8 percent of people described their identity as ‘Hongkonger’.
The ‘Hongkonger’ identity may be as strong as ever, however the locals may have to accept that their homeland is becoming more and more like the Chinese Mainland (at least according to Chinese leading author, Bi Feiyu).
By Robert Ridley