Why You Need To Understand that Hong Kong Is Not China

Even though the Olympics euphoria has nearly faded away, many of us will not forget how Michael Phelps made history once again. Aside of following up on those breathtaking individual achievements and watching the opening ceremony that is one the most impressive moments of the Olympic games, cheering for your own national team is the most common thing to do.

Once, my foreign friends were confused and asked me why Hong Kong is having its own team. In high school they had learnt that Hong Kong is a special city located in China. They were also surprised in the face of Hong Kong citizens’ reactions towards China’s performance during the games. So I considered it my duty as a Hong Kong citizen to shed light on the differences between HongKongers and Mainland Chinese people.

Hong Kong was a part of China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It was after the First Anglo-Chinese War and the Second Anglo-Chinese War, that the entirety of Hong Kong was ceded to British Empire under a 99-year lease.

During the reign of the British, Hong Kong developed a political system that could hardly differ more from the one of Mainland China. Hong Kong established the doctrine of “Separation of powers” and a party system while Mainland China is governed under one-party dictatorship. What is more, Hong Kong is a capitalist city while Mainland China is a socialist country.

Even after the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to Mainland China, Hong Kong would enjoy a certain level of independence 50 years. More precisely, Hong Kong is one of the special administrative regions of China. This means a high degree of autonomy in all kinds of administrative matters, except military and diplomatic affairs.

Now you see why Hong Kong can actually have its own Olympic team.

The differences in the two political systems also foreshadow a political transformation of Hong Kong once the transition period of 50 years is completed.

In cultural aspects, language and written word of Hong Kong and Mainland China are completely different. Mainland Chinese is writing in simplified Chinese characters while speaking Mandarin. In contrast to that, HongKongers use traditional Chinese characters and speak Cantonese.

Another distinction that many people do know about is that Facebook and Instagram are being blocked in Mainland China. The government is a restricting the delivery and dissemination of information. In turn, the usage of social networks and the freedom of speech are fundamental rights of Hong Kong citizens. As a consequence a communication barrier exists between HongKongers and Mainland Chinese citizens.

Chinese government attempts trying to assimilate the HongKongers into the Mainland system and culture have faced many challenges and resistance. Progress is terms of assimilation turns out rigorous, as Hong Kong culture is playing a leading role in the greater Asian region. Aside of its strong financial sector, Cantonese songs, Kung Fu movies and Hong Kong literature have spread all over the world. HongKongers started to have a strong sense of indigenousness and the will to deter the invasion of Mainland culture.

Many other conflicts could potentially further deepen the discrepancies between Mainland Chinese and HongKongers. For instance, local students criticize the fact that undergraduate and postgraduate study spots have been monopolized by mainland students. Also, some Mainland Chinese bring a lot of daily necessities to China leading to a surge in Hong Kong prices. Some pregnant women in China even started rushing to Hong Kong in order to obtain the Hong Kong citizenship for their children.

It becomes obvious why In recent years the conflict between Hongkongers and Mainland Chinese has worsened. As a result, Hongkongers hardly feel depressed when Chinese athletes fail to win a gold medal. They only support their own team: Hong Kong.

Maybe dear foreign friend, this helps to clear some of the confusion! This is a real Hongkonger’s view on the ethnic identity of Hong Kong citizens, which is far more meaningful than the sole geographical identity.

On Tik Leung
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