Colonization and National Identity- I Am a Hongkonger?
Being Chinese has gradually evolved in international viewing from being weak to become
stronger and stronger and a much larger reason to be proud of, seeing its unprecedented
economic and social advancements. China has also gained its big brother status in Asia and
a major player in international field. What is the barrier then, for us Hong Kong people
to announce ourselves as Chinese directly? One thing about Hong Kong is that it is
colonized before the People’s republic of China has set up. To most of us, China is so
near geographically or otherwise, and yet so distant, culturally and historically for the
past 50 years or so.
Being in Hong Kong is contradictory. We take pride in ourselves, in our hard work, in our
economic freedom, our top-ranking universities, our ability to overcome hardship and much
more. We have millions of reasons to be proud of but when you ask if we have national
pride, we won’t be able to give you a straight and direct answer.
What do we call ourselves when we are asked where are we from? It used to be a simple
question before 1997.When I went to Australia for travelling when I was small, shop owners
tried to chat with us and ask us what people are we. I answered we are HongKonger, plain
and simple. We most definitely would not say we are British even if we are holding a BNO1,
issued by the British. We, me included, take pride in calling ourselves as HongKonger. It
is amazing how almost everyone in the world knows about Hong Kong and its glory, seeing
how small it is on the map and how far it is to people in, for example, Australia or USA.
Then, it comes to 1997 when Hong Kong is handed over to China.
It is much more than just a name calling for me. I would call myself CFSSer. To say that,
I recognize I am really a part of my secondary school, CFSS2 as a whole and take pride in
it. It is the same with calling myself a Hong Konger. It is a sense of belonging, a
feeling that I am a part of something. It is something you call yourself when you feel it
is something you can relate to or feel close to.
We are so used to be colonized. Ray Chow’s viewpoints (Chow, 1998), I think, speak out a
lot of people’s mind. We are once again colonized. It is of course untrue practically or
politically speaking but it is what we think and what the reality shows. We share the same
bloodline and we may even come from same origins of places but with Hong Kong being
frontier of international exposure these years, it is no surprise that the difference
between Hong Kong and mainland China will be huge. Also, the indirect relationship between
Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China renders Hong Kong as an adopted kid. It is so
such that Hong Kong is always treated as a place where excessive freedom is allowed,
according to Mainland officials. It is also a place regarded as a bad child, always trying
something new, with no restrictions.
I am not a special case around regarding this matter. We can see from researches how Hong
Kong people recognize themselves. According to a research done by Chinese university of
Hong Kong (Anon., 2012), 23.4% of the interviewed regard themselves as just HongKonger,
with people who just think they are Chinese being only 12.6%. We can see quite a lot of
issues from this research. First off is the response from newspapers and Chinese
officials. They are criticizing the inaccuracy of these sorts of researches and question
the purpose of them as to strengthen oppositions to government. They also linked it to
ideas like political full autonomy of Hong Kong. I was actually quite disgusted by the
over-reaction and the political-minded response. There is no doubt that the research is
not conclusive and its sample size is not big enough. However, is it a plausible reason
for an official to put political pressure on the research? The research reveals the fact
that although people who agrees to the double identity- being Hong Konger and Chinese at
the same time is the majority, those who think of themselves as just Hong Kongers far
exceeds those that think they are just Chinese. I am not saying that either one is better
as if I states so, I will be no difference with the official-trying to make people think
that to think differently is opposition to authority and stating out the obvious is even
big of a sin.
I try to understand the “not calling ourselves Chinese directly crowd” with several
reasons.First is the pride of being Hong Konger exceeds that of being a Chinese, given the
proximity of society. Then, it is the integrity or ethical issues that arise over the
years in mainland China. Fake products and harmful materials are added, adding to the
abuse of intellectual rights makes it hard even for a fellow Chinese to believe one
another. Hong Kong people who care about reputation a lot would not want to be linked with
such generalization. Then, of course comes the reason that led to large scale of
emigrating from Hong Kong to countries like Canada or Singapore or USA, the communist
party. Although communist ideologist has long been replaced by a Chinese version of
socialism and that Hong Kong is practicing one country two system, the intervention of
Hong Kong’s matters all round is crystal clear. It produces fear and worries.
It is surprising for me to see autonomy movements in Hong Kong. If it is for me to guess,
Hong Kong will definitely not be the first few places that I would think of regarding such
movements. Nevertheless, some internet-based movements such as Hong Kong independence
movement and protests with people raising British colonial flags arise in recent years.
Raising British colonial flags is just a showing of love to previous ruling of Hong Kong,
which unarguably bring to success of Hong Kong. For a city colonized by the British for so
many years, although acknowledging the fact that British made a lot of profit alongside
Hong Kong’s development, not much people will complain. With free trade and the prospering