Who Is Hong Kong? 5
The Rise and Decline of Chinese Nationalism
The nationalism that emerged under British rule has its roots in the strong ties that Hong Kongers initially had with China and Chinese identity. Hong Kong has always been predominantly Chinese, and in fact a large number of Hong Kongers in the decades following World War II were actually born and had lived in mainland China. The Chinese population grew rather than diminished under colonial rule, mainly due to immigration from the Guangdong province of China, and as a result, the Chinese Hong Kongers increasingly outnumbered the British colonials stationed there. Many of these immigrants were refugees fleeing communism in China, and indeed, this is how Hong Kong became the densely populated city it now is. As a result of this influx of Chinese immigrants, Hong Kong became one of China’s centers of nationalism, though no state controlled or directed this thought. A prime example of this is Sun Yat-sen, who was Hong Kong educated and influenced and later went on to found the Republic of China, the predecessor to the current People’s Republic of China. Post-1960’s and post-handover, however, there was a decline of attachment to China. In 1949, China became a communist regime that was economically less successful than Hong Kong, and this combined with the economic success of Hong Kong, the improvement of the standard of living, and the political isolation of the PRC made the mainland appear more and more distant (Tsang). Shortly before the handover, many Hong Kong families even immigrated to other countries like Australia, Canada or the United States due to their lack of confidence in the Chinese government and their fears of how Hong Kong would be changed after the handover. However, after the handover, many people who immigrated to overseas began returning to Hong Kong when they could see that not many changes had been made.
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