Partial citizenship and identity: Ethnic minority youth in Hong Kong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Ethnic minorities have been a part of Hong Kong's dominant Chinese society since colonial times when their status was that of British subjects. Since Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, the status of ethnic minorities has been less clear. The Chinese government did not wish to offer them Chinese citizenship as they did for all Chinese residents and the departing British administration did not wish to provide British citizenship. Thus ethnic minorities have been left to either reclaim the citizenship of their parents' or even grandparents' original nationality and to be labelled as Permanent Residents without local citizenship status in Hong Kong. Against this background, this research investigated how a sample of Hong Kong ethnic minority youth constructed their identity. To pursue this issue, interviews were conducted with 15 ethnic minority youth who agreed to be involved in the study. The interviews were open ended in nature and participants were given opportunities to convey their feelings and ideas as freely as possible. The theoretical framework for this kind of interview was broadly interpretivist in nature allowing for the participants to construct their own stories concerning their identity. The results indicated that the participants were well aware of the tensions in their status as people whose citizenship was outside of Hong Kong but whose lives were integrated into the life of the city. This did not mean they wanted to become Chinese citizens but it did mean that they had a strong Hong Kong identity. They saw themselves as 'Hong Kongers', they did not wish to return to the countries of their citizenship and they were willing to put up with racism and in some cases rejection by the local Chinese community. They were content to be exiles since with they saw more benefits from living in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


Kennedy, K. (2016, June). Partial citizenship and identity: Ethnic minority youth in Hong Kong. Paper presented at The CiCe Association Conference 2016 (incorporating the Cice Jean Monnet Network conference): Education, citizenship and social justice: Innovation practices and research, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.


  • Identity
  • Citizenship
  • Discrimination
  • Belonging


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