chapter  1
21 Pages

The significance of Hong Kong

Many Hong Kong people in recent decades, unlike people elsewhere in the world, have lacked any sense of national identity; they have not understood what it means to belong to a nation or, to its synonym, a country. This situation is changing today, now that Hong Kong has returned to China; but while some in Hong Kong eagerly accept their new Chinese national identity, others remain skeptical of the idea of “belonging to a nation.” As Chinese control over Hong Kong grows more “natural,” will people in Hong Kong become like people elsewhere in the world, in feeling a taken-for-granted sense of belonging to their nation, or will many Hong Kong people continue to resist having a national identity? What can Hong Kong teach us about the meanings of national identity in the world today? These questions underlie this book, examining Hong Kong’s complex sociocultural relations to China in recent past and present. In this opening chapter, we set forth the larger issues at stake in this examination. Why do people throughout the world feel that they belong to their country? And how have so many Hong Kong people missed out on this belonging?1