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Hong Kong and the greater area around it has its own identify as well. That is, they are mainly Cantonese Chinese, a sub-culture, complete with their own dialect and variation of the writing system, plus their own takes on Chinese culture. Especially in Hong Kong where it's been better preserved because they skipped the Cultural Revolution and other influences from the CCP, taking the good parts from the British instead. The cultural differences are quite visible.

Perhaps it's luck that the British carved out Hong Kong, because if they didn't, the Cantonese would have probably been assimilated in to Mandarin by now.




I'm troubled to disagree with your comment, because I usually get so little feedback to such opinions and also it makes it look like I'm CCP stooge. So I should add that I'm British, I just lived in China for a year.

Your comment really worries me though, because it seems to me you're conflating the subculture of Guangdong with the culture of Honk Kong, perhaps in an attempt to make a tenuous argument that it is in fact Guangdong, like Taiwan, of which HK is but a tiny part, that desires independence. I think that's dangerously disingenuous to suggest that HK's current political consensus is but a facet of the wider Guangdong region's political sensibilities. I don't see any evidence whatsoever to suggest that what has happened in HK would not have also happened to any other port on the cost of China. HK wants independence because it took on the subculture of Britain not Guangdong.


There is a lot of evidence, historical and recent, that shows that the CCP is pushing for the assimilation of the Cantonese subculture.

A sample of some recent articles

"China Is Forcing Its Biggest Cantonese-Speaking Region To Speak Mandarin" https://www.businessinsider.com/china-is-forcing-its-biggest...

"Hong Kong education chief forced to clarify controversial comments about teaching Chinese language in Cantonese" https://amp.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/216738...

"Guangzhou Television Cantonese controversy" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou_Television_Cantonese...

And there's also evidence of the CCP re-writing history https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/opinion/ching-cheong-hong...

You've also ignored the point about how HK did not succumb to the Cultural Revolution. I think that this is an important point on the timeline where the culture of HK diverged from the remaining Guangdong region, which is one of the things that give Hongkongese their unique Chinese identity. For example, Hongkongese retained their religious freedom, as well as freedom of the arts, and language.


Wow, that's really interesting, I didn't know that, thanks.

So are you indeed saying HK identifies more with the plight of Guangdong than the principles of British democracy? To me it still would seem that Guangdong's resistance to Beijing is fundamentally different from HK's, so that it's merely coincidence that both Guangdong and HK have reason to feel tension with Beijing.

I completely appreciate that HK further differentiated itself from the mainland, in the same way Taiwan did, during the Cultural Revolution. And I see how that must fuel HK's desire for autonomy. But I don't see how that gives any more insight into Beijing's view, which is what I'm trying to bring more awareness to. How do we get beyond the black and white perspective that "China Bad, Honk Kong Good"? Or are you just saying that Beijing is indeed acting completely without reason, as if in a deranged authoritarian vacuum? What doesn't anybody want to understand the nuances of the CCP's motives, no matter how much we might disagree with them?


I do agree that Hong Kong has its own sub-culture, though I think you would be better off arguing the civil/political aspect of it rather than the cultural part of it.

The language seems like a confirmation bias. If you turned the corporate press standard around, you could also have a headline saying the English deepens their imperial domination of Scotland brainwashing the youth with the Queen's English rather than Gaelic. Also, if what China does makes you uncomfortable, you should be out on the street burning police cars for what the Canadians do in the 'Indian' residency schools.


I have a coworker whose background is from Hong Kong and he HATES the mainland government. Reading some of those articles, I can see why.


I think that is a disingenuous take on their comment. They said it is culturally and linguistically distinct from the mainland ruling class. I think it's pretty easy to see how that arose from the historical separation. They specifically mention how it came from years of British rule, and skipping the cultural revolution. They didn't even mention Guangdong.


I think you've misunderstood both them and the geography of South China. They're clearly referring to the Cantonese speaking region, which is called Guangdong (which the British never owned), of which HK is a very small part (perhaps 1/30th of the size). It sounds like you think they were just talking about HK or that the British owned GUangdong. And even more confusingly attributing HK's linguistic distinctiveness to its historical separation by the British?


To add to the confusion, there are plenty of people whose families have lived in Guangdong for generations that are not ethnically Cantonese at all.

Linguistically, Southern China has many different groups. In Guangdong alone there are plenty of Hakka and Teochew speakers, both of which are languages quite different to Cantonese. Even within the Cantonese topolect there are a significant number of different groups, for example Taishanese, whose speech is not mutually intelligible with Guangzhou Cantonese. Add Guangxi and Hainan and there are even more different languages and ethnic groups.

I think what the original poster was trying to point out is that due to British rule, Hong Kong did not take part in the advancements (and catastrophes) that happened on the mainland over the past century. That is undeniable fact. The implication was that this was a good thing, but i disagree.

Nowadays in the mainland people who grew up in villages hundreds or thousands of miles apart can communicate using their second language - the lingua franca of Mandarin... meanwhile many Hongkongers are stuck only knowing the language of their local town. Perhaps they preserved their local language better than people in Jiangmen (Taishanese) or Huizhou (Hakka) or Chaozhou and Shantou (Teochew), but a downside is they also can't really talk to people from those cities the way the younger generations of mainlanders can.


> ethnically Cantonese

You gave an argument that is factually wrong.

Cantonese is not a seperate ethnic group. They are still Han Chinese.

Also, the Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can still understand eachother without study (although their speech may sound funny to eachother).

The language differences are enough to give both groups their own identity, but certainly not a new ethnicity.


I think we've interpreted their post in different ways, but I don't see how my interpretation is incorrect. I know the history and geography both fairly well. The post said the difference is "especially in HK", and referenced the British influences on their culture. It also said HK is distinct partly due to language (Cantonese same as Guangdong, no mandarin unlike Guangdong, with English unlike Guangdong), partly due to history (was under British rule for 150 years).




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