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Regions with significant populations
 Hong Kong7,234,800[1]
 United States330,000[4]
 United Kingdom145,000[5]
Cantonese (mother language),
English (second language), Putonghua, Hokkien, Chiuchow, Hakka
Non-religious with veneration of the dead, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and other faiths
Related ethnic groups
Cantonese people, Macau people, Hakka people, Teochew people

Hongkongers (Chinese: 香港人), also known as Hong Kongese,[11] and Hong Kong citizens, usually refer to the permanent residents of Hong Kong, in a broad sense. Very often, those terms are confined to describe Hong Kong permanent residents who are culturally associated with Hong Kong, especially through descent, birth or growth in Hong Kong, or other types of deep affiliations with Hong Kong, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. Most people who claim their cultural identity as 'Hong-Kongish' share the same set of core values as freedom, human rights, anti-corruption and democracy. In legal terms, they are usually regarded as persons who are Permanent Residents (Chinese: 香港永久性居民; Cantonese Yale: Hèunggóng Wínggáusing Gēuimàhn) of Hong Kong and, depending on their nationality, are eligible for a Hong Kong SAR passport. In March 2014, the word "Hongkonger" was officially included in the Oxford English Dictionary.[12][13]

The majority of Hongkongers are of Han Chinese descent and most of them trace their ancestral roots to the former province of Canton); however, there are Hong Kongers of non-Han Chinese descent such as Indians, Filipinos, Nepalese, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese and British.

In the years leading up to the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, many Hongkongers emigrated and settled in other parts of the world; as a result, the diaspora stretches across the globe. The largest diasporas of Hong Kongers are found in English-speaking countries, but there are many expatriates in the People's Republic of China; some of those who had emigrated opted to return to Hong Kong.

Cultural identity[edit]

Hong Kong's cultural identity had been fostered before the People's Republic of China declared a new state in East Asia in 1949. Major distinctions from the People's Republic of China are evident in the following areas: language, judicial system, street naming system, culture, customs area, international border control, system of governance, direction of driving, social attitudes and values and legal currency.

Until 30 June 1997, Hong Kong was formally a British crown colony (later renamed as British Dependent Territory). English was the lingua franca, as well as official language, used by all public institutions; the effigy of the reigning monarch was also present on the obverse of coins issued there. Local roads were also named after past British monarchs or famous English-speaking people. While it was an overseas territory, Hong Kong participated in a variety of organisations of the Commonwealth Family network. Hong Kong ended its participation with most Commonwealth Family organisations after the transfer of sovereignty; although still participates in the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

Due to increasing social and political tensions between Hong Kong and Mainland China and desinicisation in the territory, a recent poll found that most Hong Kong citizen identify themselves as Hongkongers, with an estimated figure of over 40%, while less than 27% identify themselves as Hongkongers in China and less than 18% as solely Chinese;[14][15] the identity crisis is further heightened by demographic changes, in which the majority of Hongkongers post-1997 is represented by Chinese (mainland) immigrants.


The terms Hongkonger, Hong Kongese and Hong Kong citizen all translate to the same Cantonese term, Hèung Góng Yàhn (Chinese: 香港人; Cantonese Yale: Hèung Góng Yàhn). The direct translation of this is "Hong Kong person"; however, the term Hongkonger is also frequently used.[16][better source needed] 香港人 may also be translated as "Hongkongan".[17]

In March 2014, "Hongkonger" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.[12][18] According to the Dictionary, the term "Hongkonger" appeared in an 1870 edition of US newspaper The Daily Independent.[19]

The term 'Hong Kong Chinese' was frequently used during the British colonial era, when the British residing in Hong Kong made up a greater percentage of the population, it was common at that time to refer to an individual as Hong Kong Chinese to differentiate them from a Hong Kong Briton. The term is still used to refer to Hongkongers of Chinese ethnicity.

Legal definition and right of abode[edit]

The Hong Kong Basic Law gives a precise legal definition of a Hong Kong resident. Under Article 24 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents can be further classified as permanent or non-permanent residents. Non-permanent residents are those who have the right to hold a Hong Kong Identity Card, but have no right of abode in Hong Kong. Permanent residents are those who have the right to hold a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card as well as the right of abode.

The Basic Law allows residents to acquire right of abode by birth in Hong Kong, or in some other ways. For example, residents of China may settle in Hong Kong for family reunification purposes if they obtain a One-way Permit (for which there may be a waiting time of several years).

Unlike many countries, Hong Kong does not require applicants for naturalisation to take a citizenship or language test to become citizens.[20] However, Hong Kong migrants and residents are assumed to understand their obligation under Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law to abide by the laws of Hong Kong.

Ethnicity and background[edit]

According to Hong Kong's 2016 census, 92% of its population is ethnically Chinese[21], with 32.1% having been born in Mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.[22] Historically, many Chinese citizens have migrated from areas such as Guangdong to Hong Kong, for example in the 1850s-60s as a result of the Taiping Rebellion[23][24] and in the 1940s prior to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Thus, immigrants from Guangdong and their descendants have long constituted the majority of the ethnic Chinese residents of Hong Kong, which accounts for the city's broad Cantonese culture; the Cantonese language, a form of Yue Chinese, is the primary language of Hong Kong and that used in the media and education.[25] For that reason, while there are groups with ancestral roots in more distant parts of China such as Shanghai and Shandong, as well as members of other Han Chinese subgroups such as Hakka, Hokkien, and Teochew,[26][27][28][29] citizens who are Hong Kong-born and/or raised often assimilate the mainstream Cantonese identity of Hong Kong and typically adopt Cantonese as their first language.[30]

In addition to the Han Chinese majority, Hong Kong's minority population also comprises many other different ethnic and national groups, with the largest non-Chinese groups being Filipinos (1.9%) and Indonesians (also 1.9%).[26] There are long-established South Asian communities, which comprise both descendants of 19th and early 20th-century migrants as well as more recent short-term expatriates. South Asians include Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese, who respectively made up 0.4%, 0.3%, and 0.2% of Hong Kong's population in 2011.[26] Smaller groups include Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Koreans, Russians, Vietnamese and Thais.[26][31] In 2011, 0.8% of Hong Kong's population were European, many (53.5%) of whom resided on Hong Kong Island, where they constitute 2.3% of the population.[32]

See also[edit]

Hong Kong diaspora:

Expatriates living in Hong Kong:




  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ "Enhanced Method for Compiling Statistics on Hong Kong Residents Having Resided / Having Stayed Substantially in the Mainland" (PDF). Census and Statistics Department, Government of Hong Kong. March 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 25 April 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  6. ^ "臺灣地區居留外僑統計". 統計資料. 內政部入出國及移民署. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  7. ^ "2016 Census Community Profiles: Australia". www.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Population Census - Official statistics". Statistics and Census Service, Government of Macao Special Administrative Region.
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ "Hong Kongese". English Oxford Living Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  14. ^ "HKU POP releases latest survey on Hong Kong citizen's ethnic identity". hkupop.hku.hk. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  15. ^ Hong Kong's Enduring Identity Crisis Veg, Sebastian, The Atlantic, 16 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Urban Dictionary".
  17. ^ Luk, Bernard H. K. "The Chinese Communities of Toronto: Their Languages and Mass Media." In: The Chinese in Ontario. Polyphony: The Bulletin of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. Volume 15, 2000. Start p. 46. CITED: 56 (Archive).
  18. ^ "Hongkonger - definition of Hongkonger in English from the Oxford dictionary". www.oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  19. ^ Lam, Jeffie (19 March 2014). "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary – Amid anti-mainland sentiment, Oxford dictionary recognises city's local identity". South China Morning Post.
  20. ^ Lai Tung-kwok (22 May 2013). "Application for naturalisation as a Chinese national". Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 7 December 2013.; quote: "However, it has to be pointed out that the knowledge of the Chinese language is only one of the factors to be considered. This does not imply that applicants who do not know Chinese will be refused, nor will those who know Chinese necessarily be eligible for naturalisation as Chinese nationals. ... At this stage, we have no plan to institute examinations similar to those used by some foreign countries in handling naturalisation applications."
  21. ^ 2016 Population By-census – Summary Results (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2016. p. 37. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Place of Birth of Overall Population – 2011". Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  23. ^ John Thomson 1837–1921,Chap on Hong Kong, Illustrations of China and Its People (London,1873–1874)
  24. ^ Info Gov HK. "Hong Kong Gov Info." History of Hong Kong. Retrieved on 16 February 2007. Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Alex Lo (February 2014). "Why Cantonese is a real language in Hong Kong". Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  26. ^ a b c d 2011 Population Census – Summary Results (PDF) (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. p. 37.
  27. ^ Melvin Ember; Carol R. Ember; Ian Skoggard, eds. (2005). Encyclopedia of diasporas: immigrant and refugee cultures around the world. Diaspora communities. 2. Springer. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-306-48321-9.
  28. ^ "Immigration Autonomy". Immigration Department Annual Report 2009-2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012.
  29. ^ Ng Sek Hong (2010). Labour Law in Hong Kong. Kluwer Law International. p. 19. ISBN 978-90-411-3307-6.
  30. ^ "Han Chinese, Cantonese in China, Hong Kong". 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  31. ^ Odine de Guzman (October 2003). "Overseas Filipino Workers, Labor Circulation in Southeast Asia, and the (Mis)management of Overseas Migration Programs". Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia (4). Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  32. ^ "Population by Ethnicity and District Council District, 2011 (A205)". Census and Statistics Department. May 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.

External links[edit]