According to “Return Migration and Identity” by Prof. Nan M. Sussman of the City University of New York, between the years of 1984 and 1997, a total of 611,644 people immigrated from Hong Kong to Australia, Canada, and the United States. Many of these have returned to Hong Kong, but are they still Hong Kongers?
I myself emigrated to a Western country as a young child. When I returned to Hong Kong, still as a young child, I went to an international school, where indeed many of my peers were Hong Kong-born like me. To this day, I am much more comfortable with English than Cantonese or (god forbid) Mandarin. My favorite TV shows are all from the U.S. and U.K. However, I still enjoy the occasional trip to the karaoke bar with friends. I speak Cantonese at home with my parents. I take great interest in local affairs, even if I read most of my news in English. I may be Westernized in many ways, but I still consider Hong Kong my home.
There are many, of course, who have returned to Hong Kong primarily for employment purposes. They plan to earn as much money as they can as quickly as they can before heading back to their adopted countries for retirement. But even they do not shun Hong Kong completely, for they continue to live in little Hong Kongs such as Richmond, BC and North York, Ontario. They may shun the city itself, but they still hang on to a little bit of Hong Kong-ness culturally by remaining in these enclaves. (Unfortunately for them, they are rapidly finding these little Hong Kongs turning into little Shanghais, but that’s beyond the scope of the current post.)
I believe that if one still carries the city in their heart, they are Hong Kongers. This includes everyone from the 30th-generation villager to former British residents like the Last Governor Chris Patten himself. For some emigrants of the 80s and 90s, places like Canada were never really home to begin with, merely escape pods for if China’s iron grip proves too tight in the future. For others, life in Hong Kong is permanently a thing of the past. No matter what though, Hong Kong shall continue to shape all of our lives.
- Douglas Todd: Many Hong Kong immigrants return home from Vancouver (vancouversun.com)
Tagged: Hong Kong