Inside China

The British flag was lowered over Government House in Hong Kong – at midnight 1st July 1997. Since then, Hong Kong had handed back to the Chinese authorities, and ended the British control for more than 150 years. The handover comes with the freedom of ‘One Country Two Systems’ in this Special Administrative Region for fifty years and it is granted to remain as an individual city with its own government and policies.

In the past fifteen years, China’s growing prosperity and the rising international status has shocked the world. Despite the fact that china has become the country that everyone is talking about, the population in Hong Kong that claimed themselves as “Chinese” people are decreasing significantly.

A recent survey about the “Strength of Chinese Citizen Identity”, conducted by the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme (HKU POP), found people in Hong Kong that would identify themselves as “Chinese Citizen” has dropped to the lowest record in the past twelve years while those would identify themselves as” Hong Kong Citizen” has raised to the highest in the past ten years.

The China’s economic growth and development are running in counter to the identification of Hong Kong people. This is difficult for others to work out the reason, and as the survey point out, it may be outside the scope of the economic effects. Since Hong Kong is returned to China from 1997, it is struggling on finding its own identity. The central dilemma in Hong Kong is on how to redefine itself now as part of China.

While Hong Kong is getting more and more interactions with China in different aspects, the underlying political, social, moral and cultural values, as well as language, between Hong Kong and Mainland China are still very distinct. The previous colonial background has left Hong Kong a very different intrinsic value on system of education, transportation, architecture, mass media etc. Many facilities came together when their core values were introduced in Hong Kong based on the British model. It is undeniable that Hong Kong was profoundly affected by the western culture. In the contrary, China has a long history with its own oriental cultural values and different systems of the development as compared to Hong Kong. Therefore, the merger of these two places with different cultural values must be handled with care.

Starting from Year 2005, Hong Kong government has loosened the requirement on the visiting visa of Chinese citizens as well as the immigration requirement. There are 150 quotas per day for immigrants from China to immigrate into Hong Kong. Since then, there are more and more Chinese tourists and immigrants flowing into Hong Kong. This has greatly boosted the tourism industry as well as the service industry and has created many opportunities for Hong Kong. In the meantime, the large numbers of new immigrants – which accounts to 55,000 per years- are usually with lower education level and are difficult for them to find a job in the place. Therefore most of these new immigrants are living under the government benefits and sometimes criticized for slowing down the economy of the Hong Kong and putting more burdens on taxpayers. This is widely discussed among Hong Kong society that this huge number of low-skilled immigrants flowing into Hong Kong is a great burden to the whole city. As compared to other countries in the world, immigration requirement usually tends to attract high-educated and skilled labours to the benefits of the place. Therefore, this policy in Hong Kong is widely discussed and it sometimes imposes negative feeling on new immigrants by the locals.

Recently, many pregnant women in China try to arrange to go to Hong Kong to give birth, so that the baby can have a Hong Kong Residence. However, the huge numbers of booking by these groups of non-local mothers had even excessed the total numbers of local mothers. It has put a greater burden on the whole medical and hospital system in Hong Kong. After the government has imposed certain quotas for non-local mothers to give birth, in order to ease the medical situation, nevertheless, certain mainland mothers still try to come to Hong Kong without pregnancy bookings and go to the Accident and Emergency department of hospitals to give birth. This is heavily affecting the normal medical system in Hong Kong. With many criticisms in the Hong Kong society, the quarrel between Hong Kong people and Chinese people has become fiercer.

As a unique area in China, Hong Kong has attracted different people around China to pose opportunities. In the contrary, there are also many underlying issues that diverges the two kinds of people. In this great time of China, Hong Kong people’s recognition of Chinese identity seems to be some kind of quiet protest towards the country. The move from colonial to Chinese rule has proved a wrenching experience, a psychological rupture that could take years to resolve.