Post-colonialism, sinicization and the governance of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong

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In the colonial period, Hong Kong was often described as a harmonious multicultural society. Hong Kong is a fusion point for both East and West cultures. Different ethnic groups were living together without any serious conflicts. However, beneath this harmony lies the fact many South Asian ethnic groups are being socially excluded by the majority of Hong Kong Chinese. Even within the Chinese population, many new Chinese immigrants from the Mainland are discriminated by the local Chinese. Indeed, the so-called “multicultural” is only a term that describes the physical presence of various ethnic groups in Hong Kong. The government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has barely had a multicultural policy that encourages its citizens to respect other races and provides resources for ethnic groups to cultivate and maintain their cultural identity. The objectives of this paper are three-folded. We will first examine the situations of the ethnic minority groups (including new Chinese immigrants) in Hong Kong to see how socially excluded they are, including in employment, education, spatial allocation… etc. Secondly, we want to show, on the one hand, the attempts of the HKSAR government to get rid of the colonial past through Sinicization further hinder the ethnic minority groups to assert their cultural identity. On the other hand, the form of Sinicization undertaken by the HKSAR government, which is shaped by global capitalist forces, also marginalizes the new Chinese immigrants, making them a de facto minority group. The homogenizing effects of the Sinicization project effectively deny multiculturalism. Finally, the discussion will focus on how resilient the Hong Kong minority groups resolve their everyday life problems largely through their own individual strategies and efforts. Ironically, their resilience makes it harder for Hong Kong to become truly multicultural.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Law, K.-y. (2009, May). Post-colonialism, sinicization and the governance of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Conference on “Public Governance and Regional Governmental Cooperation”, University of Macau, Macau, China.


  • 後殖民主義,中國化與香港的少數族群管治工作


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