Hong Kong people

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Hong Kong people
Regions with significant populations
 Hong Kong4,451,493 (2016)[1]
China China (mainland)472,900[3]
 United States212,253[4]
 United Kingdom96,445[5]
Cantonese, English, Hokkien, Chiuchow, Hakka, Mandarin
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
Hong Kong people

Hongkongers (Chinese: 香港人), also known as Hong Kongese,[9] are people who originate identified with Hong Kong. These terms are a special identity for those who hold the legal residency in Hong Kong. Most of the Hongkongers were born and bred, or at least bred in Hong Kong sharing the same set of core values of Hong Kong. The terms itself have no legal definition by the Hong Kong Government; more precise terms such as Hong Kong Permanent Resident (Chinese: 香港永久性居民; Cantonese Yale: Hèunggóng Wínggáusing Gēuimàhn) and Hong Kong Resident (香港居民; Hèunggóng Gēuimàhn) are used in legal contexts. However, the word "Hongkonger" was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2014.[10][11]

Hong Kong people do not comprise one particular ethnicity, and people that live in Hong Kong are independent of Chinese citizenship and residency status. The majority of Hong Kongers are of Chinese descent and are ethnic Chinese (with most having ancestral roots in the province of Guangdong); however there are also Hongkongers of, for example, Indian, Filipino, Nepalese, Indonesian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, and British descent. Expatriates from many other countries live and work in the city.

During the years leading up to the 1997 handover of sovereignty from Britain to China, many residents left Hong Kong and settled in other parts of the world. As a result, there are groups of Hong Kongers that hold immigrant status in other countries. Some who emigrated during that period have since returned to Hong Kong. Due to China's "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong is a highly autonomous region and operates largely independently of China, having its own passport, currency, flag, and official languages (Cantonese and English instead of Mandarin). Furthermore, 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 people identify themselves as Hongkonger, with an estimated figure of over 40%, while less than 27% identify themselves as Hongkonger in China and less than 18% identify themselves as solely Chinese.[12][13]


The terms Hongkonger and Hong Kong people 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 people"; however, the term Hong Konger is also frequently used.[14] 香港人 may also be translated as "Hongkongan".[15]

In March 2014, "Hongkonger" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.[10][16] According to the Dictionary, the term "Hongkonger" appeared in an 1870 edition of US newspaper The Daily Independent.[14]

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 Hong Kongers 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.[17] 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 2011 census, 93.6% of its population is ethnically Chinese,[18] with 32.1% having been born in Mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.[19] 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[20][21] 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 broadly 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.[22] 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 groups such as Hakka, Hokkien, and Teochew,[18][23][24][25] people who are Hong Kong-born or raised often assimilate the mainstream Cantonese identity of Hong Kong and typically adopt Cantonese as a first language.[26]

In addition to ethnic Chinese, Hong Kong people also comprise different ethnic and national groups, with the largest groups being Filipinos (1.9%) and Indonesians (also 1.9%).[18] 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 groups, who respectively made up 0.4%, 0.3%, and 0.2% of Hong Kong's population in 2011.[18] Smaller groups include Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Russians, Vietnamese and Thais.[18][27] In 2011 0.8% of Hong Kong's population were white, many (53.5%) of whom resided on Hong Kong Island, where they constituted 2.3% of the population.[28]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Place of Birth | 2016 Population By-census". www.bycensus2016.gov.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  2. ^ Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs Trade and Development Canada. "Canada-Hong Kong Relations". Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  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 2018-06-11.
  4. ^ "Race Reporting for the Asian Population by Selected Categories: 2010". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
  6. ^ "2016 Census Community Profiles: Australia". www.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  7. ^ "Population Census - Official statistics". Statistics and Census Service, Government of Macao Special Administrative Region.
  8. ^ "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  9. ^ "Hong Kongese". English Oxford Living Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  11. ^ "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  12. ^ "HKU POP releases latest survey on Hong Kong people's ethnic identity". hkupop.hku.hk. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  13. ^ Hong Kong's Enduring Identity Crisis Veg, Sebastian, The Atlantic, 16 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b "熱血時報 | Hongkonger 收入《牛津英語詞典》". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  15. ^ 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).
  16. ^ "Hongkonger - definition of Hongkonger in English from the Oxford dictionary". www.oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  17. ^ 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."
  18. ^ a b c d e 2011 Population Census – Summary Results (PDF) (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. p. 37.
  19. ^ "Place of Birth of Overall Population – 2011". Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  20. ^ John Thomson 1837–1921,Chap on Hong Kong, Illustrations of China and Its People (London,1873–1874)
  21. ^ Info Gov HK. "Hong Kong Gov Info." History of Hong Kong. Retrieved on 16 February 2007. Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Alex Lo (February 2014). "Why Cantonese is a real language in Hong Kong". Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Immigration Autonomy". Immigration Department Annual Report 2009-2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012.
  25. ^ Ng Sek Hong (2010). Labour Law in Hong Kong. Kluwer Law International. p. 19. ISBN 978-90-411-3307-6.
  26. ^ "Han Chinese, Cantonese in China, Hong Kong". 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Population by Ethnicity and District Council District, 2011 (A205)". Census and Statistics Department. May 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.

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