Panel Abstract

Evolution of local identities in Hong Kong and Taiwan

This article examines a) the effect of ruling political leaders in shaping local (“Taiwanese” or “Hongkonger”) and Chinese ethnic identities in Taiwan and Hong Kong; b) the impact of the two remarkable social movements happened in Taiwan and Hong Kong in 2014 on local and Chinese identities. For the first objective, the methodological framework of constructivism is applied to reveal the effect of ruling political leaders in local and Chinese identities, particularly looking at Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) 8-year presidency in Taiwan since 2000 and Leung Chun Ying’s (梁振英) 5-year administration starting from 2012. Survey results collected by the Election Study Center (ESC) at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan and Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), both indicate that the ruling political leaders affected strongly the citizens’ choice on local identities, more specifically, increasing attachment to local identities, but decreasing that of Chinese identity. For the second objective, using datasets provided by HKUPOP, the authors try to find if there is any significant effect of the social movement in 2014 in boosting local identity in Hong Kong. The further analyses also try to dissect whether there is any subgroup that were the “lost generation” as compared to the other subgroups, if they recognized themselves significantly lower in both Hongkonger and Chinese identity. Finally, despite the slight drop of the local identities after the social movements in 2014, Chen’s impact on local identity is more successful than that from Leung to local identity as Taiwanese is still the most prevalent identity locally while Hongkonger is not. To conclude, unless there is a strong pro-independence political leader in Hong Kong, Hong Kong local identity, with a relatively weak cultural historical background and foundation, will remain vague and will not become mainstream locally.