Socio-political embeddings of South Asian ethnic minorities’ economic situations in Hong Kong

Kam Yee LAW, Kim-Ming LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to develop a better understanding of the economic situations of South Asian minorities in Hong Kong. A theoretical perspective emphasizing the embedding of economic behavior within social relationships and socio-political processes will be employed. This study will examine how three macro-historical processes, namely, colonization, industrialization and globalization, induce the different configurations of three structural factors, namely, government policy, societal reception and co-ethnic community, affecting the economic wellbeing of South Asian minorities in Hong Kong. The authors argue that Hong Kong Chinese and South Asians coexisted peacefully without major conflict or discrimination during the early colonial age. However, when the colonial government started to develop unique Hong Kong Chinese identity and as the HK Chinese became wealthier, well-educated and successful, ethnic tensions began to occur. In this era of globalization, Hong Kong encounters the serious problem of economic restructuring, and the continuous inflows of migrants from developing countries engender keen competition with lower-class Hong Kong citizens for low-end service jobs. South Asians are no longer enjoying positive societal reception from the Hong Kong Chinese. The co-ethnic community factor for Hong Kong South Asians has not significantly changed since the pre-war years. Their sub-communities' internal resources may secure their economic wellbeing through mutual assistance. However, under a very harsh external environment, whether sufficient resources can still be continuously drawn remains questionable. Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-1005
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number84
Early online dateMay 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


economic situation
national minority
Hong Kong
service job
colonial government
economic behavior
lower class
colonial age
government policy


Law, K.-Y., & Lee, K.-M. (2013). Socio-political embeddings of South Asian ethnic minorities’ economic situations in Hong Kong. Journal of Contemporary China, 22(84), 984-1005.