Political movements in Hong Kong and conflicts between global and “Chinese” citizenship

Shiu Hing Sonny LO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Professor Lo’s presentation focused on political movements in Hong Kong and the tension between global and Chinese citizenship. He started off by explaining that colonial citizenship played down the issue of participation. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong under the British rule, thought that mass participation would empower citizens. However, politicization became the norm in Hong Kong after 1997 and there were three distinctive stages of this phenomenon: 1. 1997-2003: when the new government attempted to enforce citizenship the “Chinese way”. There was more talk about economy and less about politics; the government executed a policy of depoliticization. In July 2003, there was a massive protest in Hong Kong against the Hong Kong government trying to impose Article 23 of the basic law. Since then, populism has become the main ideology: public opinion has become more important in political decisions. 2. 2003-2012 was characterized by government attempts to depoliticize Hong Kong. 3. 2012 until present is characterized by opposition to the National Education Policy. There is a clash between Chinese citizenship and global citizenship. The former is associated with obedience to authority, groupism, harmony and Chinese identity; the latter is centred around conflict and individualism. There is a movement in Hong Kong to support an agenda centred on political mass participation, as participation has been historically limited only to elites. There is also opposition to a potential Westernisation of the HK political system. -In summary: 1. The evolving concept of citizenship in Hong Kong has become hyper politicized. 2. There is a clash between Chinese and global concepts of citizenship. 3. Therefore the confrontation between the citizens of HK and the Chinese government will become sharper. -Discussion: The discussion centred around citizenship education and human rights in China and Hong Kong. In mainland China, it is usually the government, which has the real power to influence the human rights situation; however, too much government influence can have an adverse effect and actually infringe upon rights. Professor Lo noticed that Chinese students at the HK Institute of Education are very open and receptive to broader notions of citizenship but are quite apolitical in comparison to students from Hong Kong. He suggested that these students are encouraged to get engaged in politics by social media. Kennedy added that students in Hong Kong often are globally engaged elsewhere, i.e. they travel to complete classes or community service learning outside of Hong Kong. He also mentioned that volunteerism in mainland China is increasing and gave an example of the young people who volunteered to help after the Sichuan earthquake. In Hong Kong the debate on what is Eastern and Western is fierce and Western notions of GC are constantly challenged. Mass participation is considered of intrinsic value for citizens but it is not the case everywhere. Global Citizenship and cosmopolitanism continue to be challenging terms, especially within mainland China and Hong Kong contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


Lo, S. (2013, December). Political movements in Hong Kong and conflicts between global and “Chinese” citizenship. Paper presented at the Global Citizenship Curriculum in Higher Education: Evolving Policy & Practice and a Future Research Agenda, Royal Park Hotel, Hong Kong, China.


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