A review of Hong Kong people’s identity development and the controversies of national education

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This paper reviews the identity development of Hong Kong people since the resumption of sovereignty by China in 1997. It argues that there has been a steady and then rising development of local Hong Kong’s identity despite both Chinese Beijing and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR)’s government want to develop a Chinese national identity. Before 1997, Hong Kong people already developed a sense of local identity which emphasizes local cultures and economic achievements, while at the same time having a Chinese cultural identity as a reference. This dual or hybrid identity, however, distant itself from the Communist China. Since the early 2000s, the HKSAR government put significant efforts in media and the education sector to increase knowledge about China and build up a Chinese national identity. During education reform, national identity is regarded as one of priority values and budget has been given for schools to organize Chinese study tours and attend Chinese military training and practices of raising national flag ceremony. On the 20th anniversary of the HKSAR Establishment Day in 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao called for more nationalistic education. Therefore, the government proposed a mandatory Moral and National Education curriculum aiming at national identity. However, it was opposed by parent concern groups and students in 2012 on the grounds of biased contents and indoctrination tendency. The Occupy and Umbrella Movement in 2014 was another watershed when tens of thousands of demanded genuine universal suffrage in electing all legislative councilors and the Chief Executive. After this political right’s failure, a strong sense of local identity surfaced among young people to fight for self-determination. This confrontation between Hong Kong identity and Chinese national identity exert influences in elections and debates, interactions with mainland Chinese, and juxtaposed a puzzled identity in this globalization era but populists and nationalistic concerns surfaced world. Copyright © 2018 CiCe Association Conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


Chong, E. K.-M. (2018, May). A review of Hong Kong people’s identity development and the controversies of national education. Paper presented at The 20th Annual Children’s Identity and Citizenship European Association and 2nd Joint CitizED Association Conference Citizenship & Identity in a ‘Post-Truth’ World, IBIS Old Town Hotel, Warsaw, Poland.


  • Local identity
  • National identity
  • Controversies
  • Hong Kong
  • China


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