Constructing the Hong Kong Nation: Cultural Nationalism and Civic Nationalism


The handover of sovereignty to China has not made Hongkongers the true master of their city, as promised by Beijing. Rather, the recent years have witnessed an increasing influence of the Chinese government in Hong Kong affairs, the shrink of freedom and the violations of values embraced by Hong Kong people. Resultantly, on top of the burgeoning amount of protests, nationalistic thoughts began to sprout. Against this background, this study attempts to dissect the discursive constitution of Hong Kong nationalism. This paper compares two main accounts of Hong Kong nationalism, each consists of a distinct narration of Hong Kong's history and culture: The Hong Kong City-state Theory exhibits a tint of cultural nationalism and holds that Hong Kong's cession to Britain and the resulting separation with China rendered the colony a de facto city-state, which allowed the 'authentic Chinese culture' to be preserved while it was destroyed by the communist state in China. Rather than challenging China's sovereignty, it believes Hong Kong should protect its autonomy by founding a confederation with China. In contrast, the Hong Kong Nationalism Theory called for a full-fledged nationalism. The advocates maintain that a Hong Kong identity was sprouted among the Chinese elite class in the late 19th century and consolidated through a series of negative interactions with China. They resort to civic nationalism and define Hong Kong as a nation bonded by shared values and the common wishes to 'flee totalitarianism and pursue freedom' and thus deserves the right to self-determination or even independence.

Author Information
Justin Chun-ting Ho, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2016
Stream: Sociology

This paper is part of the ACCS2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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