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Bridging the Chinese National Identity Gap: Alternative Identities in Hong Kong and Taiwan

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Bridging the Chinese National Identity Gap: Alternative Identities in Hong Kong and Taiwan

Syaru Shirley

Korea Economic Institute of America

2014

After more than one hundred years of colonial rule, China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 and is now seeking the eventual return of Taiwan, which has enjoyed de facto independence since the Kuomintang government retreated there from the mainland in 1949. China has continued to expand its social and economic ties with Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, despite China’s deepening economic integration with Hong Kong and Taiwan and the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, surveys show that there has been no increase in Chinese identity among the people in Hong Kong or Taiwan. Instead, there is a rise in local identities. Beijing is determined to bridge the identity gap in both regions in the belief that the development of a Chinese national identity is necessary to ensure political stability and territorial integrity. Its aim is to prevent Taiwan from declaring de jure independence and to secure the eventual unification of Taiwan with the rest of China, and with regard to Hong Kong, it seeks to ensure that the continued progress toward direct elections does not produce an unacceptable legislature or chief executive. Promoting Chinese national identity in both Hong Kong and Taiwan is seen as important to achieving those goals.

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