If we still need convincing that young Hong Kong people simply want to be called exactly that — not “young Hong Kong Chinese people” as Beijing prefers — here’s another statistical evidence.
In a recent survey by Christian youth organization Breakthrough, respondents rated their Hong Kong identity eight out of 10 and their Hong Kong Chinese status less than five.
Seven in 10 said Beijing has no respect for their Hong Kong identity while three in five think China is only interested in promoting a “Chinese nationality status” in order to denigrate “one country, two systems”.
The survey interviewed 1,164 people between 14 and 29.
The conclusion is that the higher the respect of the Chinese government for Hong Kong people’s identity, the more young people view their Chinese nationality status favorably.
That said, Hong Kong’s youth prefer to keep things as they are when it comes to their identity.
There’s your answer why Beijing continues to be out of touch with roughly 15 percent of the Hong Kong population.
Stripping out rebelliousness which often plays into surveys like this, we still get a strong sense of youth disaffection with things China.
But their sense of identity is not only shaped by their sense of belonging to China or lack of it but by very real and tangible factors such as freedom of expression.
They want to uphold their Hong Kong identity and not blindly follow the dictates of the Communist Party.
That does not mean they are blindly saying no to Beijing. They can give any number of reasons.
In fact, they recognize that they cannot avoid their Chinese nationality. For instance, they have to state it when applying for a passport.
But whether they embrace it or are proud of it is another matter.
The fact that China is the world’s second largest economy does not impress them because in their minds, the country’s success comes at the expense of individual freedoms, human rights and the environment.
Unlike their cousins across the border, their worldview has been shaped by free access to information, more so in this age of social media.
While Chinese netizens have to work their way around the Great Firewall to engage with the rest of world online, Hong Kong people take their internet freedom for granted.
Which is why a controversial amendment proposal to the copyright law is raising red flags among them because of its implications for online censorship.
Young people, the biggest consumer of Hong Kong’s social media services, fear that the proposed legislation will restrict internet freedom to a privileged group of copyright owners and the government.
They’re calling it “Article 23 of the Internet”, referencing a mothballed national security bill under Article 23 of the Basic Law which people say is an overreach by Beijing’s state security apparatus.
The danger with the copyright law is its potential to curb free speech under the pretext of intellectual property rights protection, which sounds less threatening than a state security law in its most benign form.
Young people think the draft bill’s ambiguous use of the “fair use” concept which allows internet users to adapt certain original material in the public domain or their derivatives threatens creativity and innovation.
To be fair, countries and regions around the world have brought in internet copyright laws, but we haven’t heard a lot of their young people take them with such dread.
Unlike young Hong Kong people, they don’t have a China to reckon with.
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