Hong Kong people

Further information: Demographics of Hong Kong
Hong Kong people
Regions with significant populations
 Hong Kong 7,184,000 in mid-2013
 Canada 615,152
 Mainland China 472,900
 United States 330,000
 United Kingdom 145,000
 Australia 68,000
 Taiwan 47,200
 Macau 19,355
 Netherlands 9,935[1]
 New Zealand 7,473[2]
 Japan 4,196
Cantonese, English, Hakka, Teochew, Mandarin, Shanghainese
Non-religious with Chinese folk religion, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and other faiths
Hong Kong people
Chinese 香港人

Hong Kong people (Chinese: 香港人), also known as Hong Kongers or Hong Kongese, are people who originate from or live in Hong Kong. Besides their use to refer to Hong Kong residents, these terms may also be used more loosely to refer to those who may not be residents, but have lived in the city for an extensive period of time or have a strong cultural connection with Hong Kong. The terms have no legal definition by the Hong Kong Government; more precise terms such as Hong Kong Permanent Resident (香港永久性居民) and Hong Kong Resident (香港居民) are used in legal contexts. However, the words "Hongkonger" and "Hong Kongese" were officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2014.[3][4]

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 consider themselves as ethnic Chinese (with most having ancestral roots in the province of Guangdong); however there are also Hong Kongers 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, flag, and official language. Furthermore, due to increasing social and political tensions between Hong Kong and Mainland China and desinicisation in the territory, a recent poll found that less than a fifth of Hong Kong residents now identify themselves solely as Chinese, while 38% identify themselves solely as a Hong Kong citizen, and the largest group (43%) identify as a mix of both a Hong Kong and Chinese citizen.[5][6]


The terms Hongkonger, Hong Kongese, 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.[7] 香港人 may also be translated as "Hongkongan".[8]

In March 2014, "Hongkonger" and "Hong Kongese" were both added to the Oxford English Dictionary.[3][9] According to the Dictionary, the first time that the term "Hong Kongese" appeared was in 1878, while the term "Hongkonger" appeared even earlier, in an 1870 edition of US newspaper The Daily Independent.[7]

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.

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.[10] 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.

Residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("Hong Kong residents") shall include permanent residents and non-permanent residents.

The permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be:

  1. Chinese citizens born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
  2. Chinese citizens who have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
  3. Persons of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong of those residents listed in categories (1) and (2);
  4. Persons not of Chinese nationality who have entered Hong Kong with valid travel documents, have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and have taken Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
  5. Persons under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong of those residents listed in category (4) before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; and
  6. Persons other than those residents listed in categories (1) to (5), who, before the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, had the right of abode in Hong Kong only.

The above-mentioned residents shall have the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and shall be qualified to obtain, in accordance with the laws of the Region, permanent identity cards which state their right of abode.

The non-permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be persons who are qualified to obtain Hong Kong identity cards in accordance with the laws of the Region but have no right of abode.

Ethnicity and background

According to Hong Kong's 2011 census, 93.6% of its population is ethnically Chinese,[11] with 32.1% having been born in Mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.[12] 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[13][14] 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.[15] 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,[11][16][17][18] 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.[19]

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%).[11] 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.[11] Smaller groups include Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Koreans, Russians, Vietnamese and Thais.[11][20] 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.[21]

See also

Ethnicities in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong Local, Expats and Returnees:



  1. "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  2. "2013 Census totals by topic". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/march-2014-update/new-words-list-march-2014/
  4. "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  5. Hong Kong population survey, 2011
  6. Hong Kong's Enduring Identity Crisis Veg, Sebastian, The Atlantic, 16 October 2013.
  7. 1 2 "熱血時報 | Hong Kongese、Hongkonger 收入《牛津英語詞典》". Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  8. 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).
  9. "Hongkonger - definition of Hongkonger in English from the Oxford dictionary". www.oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  10. 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."
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 2011 Population Census – Summary Results (PDF) (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. p. 37.
  12. "Place of Birth of Overall Population – 2011". Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  13. John Thomson 1837–1921,Chap on Hong Kong, Illustrations of China and Its People (London,1873–1874)
  14. Info Gov HK. "Hong Kong Gov Info." History of Hong Kong. Retrieved on 16 February 2007. Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. Alex Lo (February 2014). "Why Cantonese is a real language in Hong Kong". Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  16. 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.
  17. "Immigration Autonomy". Immigration Department Annual Report 2009-2010.
  18. Ng Sek Hong (2010). Labour Law in Hong Kong. Kluwer Law International. p. 19. ISBN 978-90-411-3307-6.
  19. "Han Chinese, Cantonese in China, Hong Kong". 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  20. 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). Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  21. "Population by Ethnicity and District Council District, 2011 (A205)". Census and Statistics Department. May 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
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