Hong Kong: Rising Chinese Nationalism?

“Hong Kong Citizenship: Thou shalt have no other,” The Economist, June 5, 2008

In a territory where a huge number of people have dual citizenships, it seems strange that the concept is being frowned upon. The current targets seem to be those in the civil service. I guess it makes sense that your politicians and your bureaucrats should be devoted to your nation.

Of course, Hong Kong is a part of China, so it seems to make sense that these high ranking officials should have Hong Kong citizenship only. However, this change in thinking shows a rather disturbing change in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has never been an intensely nationalistic place. Given it’s in between status as a imperial colony of ethnic Chinese, it would be hard to feel patriotic about anything. Also, given my Canadian background, any extremely overt display of nationalism or patriotism is often met with strong skepticism of who is engineering the display in the background.

However, The Economist picks out that there is a rising sense of nationalism in Hong Kong. It’s hard to gauge how widespread this phenomenon is since my experience has always been with Hong Kong people who are not very pro-Beijing. There was a YouTube video about a month ago of vehement flag-waving supporters of the Olympic Torch and China in the face of criticisms over Tibet (The video is in Chinese, but shows some flag-waving Chinese cursing at reporters and protesters.  CAUTION: The language is very strong).  Now this piece of news about how dual citizenship is no longer something to be touted, but something to be rescinded. This seems to be quite a shift in the Hong Kong psyche.

Is Chinese Nationalism rising in Hong Kong? Are politicians simply kowtowing to please the leaders in Beijing or is this really the new undercurrent of the political tide in Hong Kong? Will this new nationalism lead to more emotional decisions over rational decisions for the future of this Chinese territory? I couldn’t truly answer that question being on this side of the Pacific. I may need to put a closer ear to the local Chinese media to get a better idea.

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