Fifteen years after taking back Hong Kong amid a blaze of fireworks and patriotic fervour, China is battling what it sees as a subversive challenge: an academic survey showing that many in this former British colony identify little with China.
The survey, conducted last month by the University of Hong Kong, found that the number of respondents who view themselves as Hong Kongers is more than double the number who see themselves as Chinese and that bonds of shared identity with the mainland have grown weaker since Britain relinquished control in 1997.
Infuriated by the results, Chinese officials have orchestrated a campaign of denunciation — the latest blast in a barrage of verbal and written broadsides against alleged disloyalty in Hong Kong.
As a “special administrative region” within China, Hong Kong largely runs its own affairs under the “one country, two systems” formula enunciated by Deng Xiaoping, China’s late paramount leader. It has its own legal system and currency, issues its own travel documents and allows free speech and other liberties unknown in the rest of China. Recently Chinese officials and pro-Beijing media in the former colony have gone on the offensive against a host of public figures whose views they dislike, including the US consul general.
Media controlled by the Communist Party also directed a torrent of abuse at Robert Chung, the director of Hong Kong University’s Public Opinion Program and his work.
“Chung’s survey has evil political aims,” the Wen Wei Po newspaper opined. The paper reviled Chung as a “slave of black political funding” and accused him of seeking to “divide Hong Kong people from their compatriots.”
Chung dismissed the allegations as a “Cultural Revolution-style smear campaign.”
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