A local study reveals that new immigrants in Hong Kong, particularly those from mainland China, tend to be more supportive of the pro-establishment camp than those born in the city, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The study was conducted by three academics in political science – Ma Ngok of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Wong Hok-wui of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Lim Wey-wen of the University of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong accepted about 800,000 new immigrants from 1999 to 2014.
The academics based their research on an analysis of data from the 2012 Asian Barometer Survey.
The results of their study were published in an article titled “Migrants and Democratization: The Political Economy of Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong” in the latest issue of Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations, an international journal.
The study found that 56 percent of those who supported the pro-establishment camp were new immigrants from the mainland, while two in every three of those who supported the pro-democracy camp were locally born citizens.
New immigrants were also more satisfied with the Hong Kong economy and more proud of being Chinese than locally born citizens, it said.
The academics deduced from the results that new immigrants want the status quo in Hong Kong politics and support Beijing as most of them chose to settle in Hong Kong for economic reasons.
That is why support for the pro-establishment camp, instead of declining, has increased since the Occupy protests of 2014 even as demand for democracy has been rising, the academics said.
Meanwhile, one in six respondents who answered “unsure” about their view of Hong Kong politics in the 2012 survey were new immigrants.
The study suggested that Chinese immigrants can be seen as a major export of China, like capital and labor, and can be potentially used by Beijing to influence or even manipulate other regimes.
China’s large population can be a very powerful tool to exert Beijing’s political influence, the study said.
As such, the authors expect future pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong to see more obstructions since new immigrants are most likely to keep increasing.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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