香港人不是中國人 – Hongkonger is not Chinese


Yesterday for Hong Kong it was 1st of July a.k.a. 香港特別行政區成立紀念日 – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day. The holiday commemorates the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region connected with annual protest made by Hongkongers against government. This year: . And to ‘celebrate’ that day I’ve decided to clear the differences between Hongkongers and Mainland Chinese. It’s not only problem of Hong Kong people, even Taiwanese people have to deal with dialogs like that:

Our friend: I’m (name), I’m from Taiwan.

His American classmate: So you’re Chinese.

Friend: No, I’m Taiwanese.

Of course from racial point of view 90% of them come from Han Chinese (漢族), it’s even majority in Singapore, not to mention it’s around 1/5 of all the people in the world. They share also a cultural background but there are many differences between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China.

My post is not to talk bad about Mainlanders, I believe that what we see in media, very often in Hong Kong are just those rednecks, who don’t know how to behave at all, don’t respect anything and anyone – I met many people from both HK and China and all of them are smart, well behaved, really polite, they don’t poop on the street or elevators, they don’t spit on the ground, they don’t argue or yell at anyone – those are people punished because some of the people from their country done really stupid or disgusting things. My post is to show foreign readers that HK and China are not the same places, just like from racial point of view I’m Slavic just like Czech, Belarus or Russian people but we are not the same, we speak different languages, live in different places, we have SIMILAR but not the same culture. Same with Hong Kong and China.

  • Passport: first and main difference – Hongkongers hold their own passport with different traveling rules from Mainland China. HK people are allowed to go to many places on the earth with 30/90 or more days without having a visa and most of that countries can do the same in Hong Kong. On the other hand to go to China you probably need to apply for visa – there are few exceptions but most of incoming people need to hold visa. I’m an European Union country citizen, my husband can entry my country for 90 days without visa, it’s the same for me or any other EU person going to Hong Kong, but to get to China I had to apply for a tourist visa valid for 30 days stay.




  • Hongkonger is a foreigner for Mainland China: they cannot use their driving license, they need to have special cards to get there, they have to stay in the hotels that has right to keep foreigners. In Shanghai last year we both had to go to closest police station to tell them why and what time we want to spend there, even thought he has a card to entry China. Hongkongers hold their own ID cards, just like passports.




Hong Kong ID Card

  • Language: as I said in one of previous posts, Hong Kong has it’s own official language which is Cantonese, in China they see Cantonese only as a dialect, they use Beijing based Mandarin for any document. HK documents are always in two languages: written with traditional signs Cantonese and British English, but since 1997 more and more public signs have three languages with Mandarin. Funny fact – at the beggining the order of languages were Cantonese, English, Mandarin, nowadays when more and more Mainlanders come to Hong Kong order changed to Cantonese, Mandarin, English.



  • Currency: Hong Kong is using Hong Kong dollars which is now 0.13 usd, while China uses Renminbi also known as Yuan which is 0.16 usd. Yuan cannot be officialy used in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. HKD includes: 10, 20, 50 cents, 1 dollar, 2 dollars (beautiful in my opinion), 5 dollar in coins, 10 dollar in coins and bill – and I can be happy to present you old, but still valid 10 HKD before it went from green to blue, banknotes include also 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 HKD. The only person you can see on yuan is Mao, on the other hand Jiao have ethnic minorities of China on it and they are really nice in my opinion but not very popular in use. You can convert it like that – 1 Jiao = 0.1 Yuan, 5 – 0.5 Yuan, 10 Jiao – 1 Yuan.



  • Marrying a Hongkonger: that’s my favourite and very ironic part – for me being married to a Hongkonger gives me a temporaty Hong Kong ID right away, after few years I can change it to normal one, for a Mainlander married to Hongkonger that used to be I think 7 or 5 years, now our friend who is marrying a girl from China says they need to wait ‘only 3 years’ until she can get her Hong Kong ID.
  • Index of Economic Freedom: since 1995 Hong Kong is holding it’s 1st place in ranking of economic freedom – business, trade, monetary, fiscal, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption. China recently jumped from 140th to 136th.
  • Government: ‘One country, two systems’ – Hong Kong government is led by the Chief Executive, head of the SAR, who nominates its principal officials for appointment by the Chinese Central People’s Government, all power within the government of the People’s Republic of China is divided among several bodies: the political branch, the Communist Party of China, the State Council, the National People’s Congress, the Supreme People’s Court and People’s Liberation Army – Central Military Commission. The two SARs are responsible for their domestic affairs including, but not limited to, the judiciary and courts of last resort, immigration and customs, public finance, currencies and extradition. Diplomatic relations and national defense of the two SARs however, is the responsibility of the Central People’s Government in Beijing.
  • Olympic games: you might miss a tiny team on the olympic games coming from Hong Kong! Yes, that’s right – they have few people going there, last year 李慧詩 won a bronze medal on in cycling. Cannot compare for dozens that Mainland Chinese people brought back with them, but still – it’s a small success and another thing showing that these two are not the same.


There are many other differences, not only connected to finance or law – those two places share their ethnic and cultural backgroud but history of both made them not being able to along with each other. My small wish is Hong Kong stays as it was, so is China, bring and show off the good people, stop getting too much into people’s life and freedom they cherrish. Beautiful culture is being killed by being greedy, sometimes being really stupid. I love Hong Kong and I love China, they are not the same but both of them can be really wonderful.


53 thoughts on “香港人不是中國人 – Hongkonger is not Chinese

  1. wow! impressed! looks like you are doing a HK/chinese cultural studies PhD! One country two systems is what China and Hong Kong trying to do here, hope China won’t intervene too much too… 🙂


  2. Great post! I always feel pressured when asked where I’m from. When I ask people to guess where I’m from, I always get “you look korean” XD and one guy also asked if I was a mix between Chinese and European hahaha!


  3. I have some friends and relatives living in HK. I once told them that I love Andy lau’s song 中國人. They gave me a face which I could not describe in words (LOL), and then they told me that I should never, ever call them as a Chinese (geographically speaking, I should not even dare to think of them as a 中國人).
    I found it funny, but I tried to relate to them, to their perspective. The native Indonesian do not think of us – 華僑 – as “real Indonesians”. I strongly believe that the Mainland Chinese do not think of us as “real Chinese people” as well.
    I wonder if they (people in HK, in general) face the same “problem”. Now that HK is returned to China, I wonder if they feel like they are somehow “forced” to be a Chinese (中國人).


  4. Very informative. I’ll bet it’s frustrating that so many people think Hong Kong and China are one and the same. I’d like to visit Hong Kong someday. I’d hoped to during my recent trip to China, but didn’t get to. Next time I will for sure!


    1. Please visit Hong Kong sooner because it will soon become a real China city as the CCP government and HKSAR government are both trying so very hard to erase all the roots we have – the torn down of Queen’s Pier, the invasion of Mandarin, the influx of Chinese from China… All too scary.
      Experience it before it’s too late. With the above information in mind, I’m sure your experience in Hong Kong, hopefully in the near future, will be fantastic and possibly eye-opening.


  5. great post! i really had to laugh because my boyfriend is from mainland China and he thinks Taiwan, Hongkong, Macau, etc.. DEFINITELY belongs to China 😀 even if I try to have a discussion with him he does not want to give in.. hilarious 😀


  6. I actually needed this post, I have been asked the same question is Hong Kong also China? And I m glad I have a better understanding of it now. thanks for the wonderful post.


  7. You may have a point, but i beg to differ on the question of being “Chinese”. Suffice for me to say that once you lose your roots, you lose your identity & dignity. A very good example is the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mohammed Mahathir – every DNA of his is of Indian origin, yet claimed himself to be Malay . . . all for glorifying himself in his political life!


  8. Well done! Great work!
    I have to reblog this. Thank you for all your effort, so please to hear a Hong Konger who’s non-ethnic-Chinese (a bit of a nascence to make this so complicated) to see all these and make the effort to write it up.
    Thank you so much!


  9. Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you just could do with a few p.c. to pressure the message home a bit, but other than that, that is fantastic blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.


  10. Max Blue and the Luminous Liddy were married in the Hong Kong City Hall on April 11, 1956 – Max’s 2008 novel, COLD FRONT PASSING HOKKAIDO, has a lot to say about Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland, etc. Signed copies from Max If anyone is interested – right now trying to market THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE.

    Max would be thrilled if someone would send a recipe for sweet and sour pork, Fukien style.


  11. I think that’s pretty accurate summary technical (?) differences between HK and mainlanders. Though HKers tend to be very selective in terms of how they associate themselves. When China wins gold medals it becomes ‘we,’ but when it’s someone taking a dump in the street it becomes ‘they.’

    Btw, thanks for the follow! Really enjoying your blog!


  12. Thanks for visiting my blog today. AND thank you for the education. I have to admit I didn’t know any of this. I made the mistake in my blog I intend to fix it! Following! 😀


  13. Guai mui, I LOVE your post. Boredom crusher…definately great entry. Let me share something with you, something I’ve encountered during my trip to Vancouver.

    Guy: So you’re a Malaysian, but you don’t look like a Malay.
    I: Well…I’m of Chinese descent.
    Guy: *doubt* But you don’t look like a Chinese to me.
    I: My great-granny was a Thai.
    Guy: *slowly* oooook, I get it. *a while* So, are you saying Malaysia belongs to Thailand? Or to Indonesia…


  14. All hong kober need do is completely 去中國化,yes that include get rid of Chinese new year and Chinese character then people won’t confuse hong konger as ”Chinese”


  15. Cantonese is not Han Chinese. Cantonese is a yue language and the cantonese people are descendants of Nan yue people. Nan yue was a clan of hundred yue people. So cantonese differs from Han chinese in pronounciation and Grammar.
    Hongkonger is a foreigner for Mainland China because the chinese can not understand yue language.
    The Han chinese named all cantonese as Yue People and the chinese prof. Gong called Cantonese are bastard.


    1. Good to know, sources I reached said like 90% of current Hongkongers came from Han Chinese so I’m happy for some fresh new point, thank you so much! 🙂
      It also reminds me when one of the comments to this post said that Cantonese people are ‘Malay monkeys’ WTF. That’s the only comment that never made to this site, but I still keep it as ‘waiting for approval’.


  16. A great post! I like your comparison between Poles, Czechs and Russians: how we are all Slavs, but still aren’t the same (unlike some thick-witted foreigners think); it’s a very similar thing with Hongkongers, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese.
    I can’t count how many times I’ve seen those “righteous” mainland Chinese or even foreigners rolling their eyes at “I am from Hong Kong/a Hongkonger”. They naively think that Hongkoners “deny that they are Chinese, because they want to reject their ‘motherland'”. That sort of cheap rhetoric always gets my goat! >:-( These people simply don’t seem to admit that ” Chinese” refers not only to ethnicity but also nationality and cultural identity. And as far as both of these are concerned, Hongkongers (as well as Taiwanese) are NOT the same as mainland Chinese. Legally, also, they come from territories that are different from mainland China: they have their own borders, currency, passports, immigration. They have all the attributes of a foreign country; in fact, according to international law they are all different subjects to it.
    To me, Hongkongers are effectively half-foreigners. They are a unique breed thanks to the history and a certain set of circumstances that shaped their psyche. So, no matter how much mainland China may rave at the fact that Hongkongers identify differently from them, the truth is simply that they ARE different.
    Accept it, people, and move on.


    1. People are always entitled to their own opinions. A fact remains a fact & tyherte’s anything to gainsay about it. However plausible your argument & you may argue till the cow comes home, it isn’t going to change it to be a BULL!


        1. Refer to my comments on July 16, 2013. You know full well that a leopard cannot change its skin. You have the free choice to either accept my statement or reject it. Any further argument is pointless.


          1. 😳😳😳
            I’ve just read your above-mentioned comment. Whatever does it have to do with what I’ve written?!

            You, sir, would do well to express yourself in a more coherent manner.
            I have no wish whatsoever to argue with you because I have no idea what you’re on about.


  17. oh yeah! this article is great, really happy that as a person was not grown up here can understand the point, we need to apply a “visa” to get in China, and we using totally different passport, how can you say we are the all Chinese? this makes a lots of sense, thank you from a Taiwanese.


  18. hong kong and china thats one of the sensible topics here in china! i am living in guangzhou and foten to go to hong kong for the weekends, they say hong kong is a part of china, but then i have to cross the boarder and fill in departure and arrival cards just for a short weekend trip…kind of ironic 😉


  19. Chinese is both a race and a nationality, that’s the problem.

    No-one can deny that the majority of HKers (although increasingly less so), China, Taiwan and most of Singapore are ethnically Chinese. But they are all different in nationality.

    I guess the resentment comes with the fact that the race is called Chinese – non China Chinese don’t like that, because it’s to affiliated with the mainland.

    People from Britain or America have no issues calling themselves British Chinese or Chinese Americans (don’t ask me why its reversed for the countries), but then they are a world away from the politics of East Asia


    1. In Ireland on his Irish residency card it is stated ‘nationality: Hong Kong’, HK passport allows you to travel to more countries visa free comparing to the Chinese passport and to make it funnier – in mainland HK citizens are treated as foreigners (hotels etc.). it kinda doesn’t make sense, you know what I mean? 😉


  20. I’ve read this post before, but finding it again, I am still greatly amused by the distinctions. Because they’re TRUE, goddammit! My sister in HKG will also be the first to say so. 😄


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