The percentage of young people identifying as Chinese has dropped to a new 20-year low, according to the latest University of Hong Kong survey.

The university’s Public Opinion Programme interviewed around 1,000 people by phone last week.

hong kong occupy identity flag
File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In one question, they were asked if they were Hongkongers, Chinese or a mixed identity of both. In general, 37 per cent identified as Hongkongers, 21 per cent said Chinese, whilst 40.2 per cent either answered “Hongkongers in China” or “Chinese in Hong Kong.”

But different age groups presented very different results.

Only 3.1 per cent of the respondents between 18 and 29 said they identified as Chinese, dropping slightly from 3.4 per cent when the poll was conducted six months ago. It the lowest result since the survey began in August 1997.

65 per cent of the age group identified as Hongkongers. 28.7 per cent said they had a mixed identity.

Chinese identity hkupop
Click to enlarge. Photo: HKUPOP.

Of those older than 30, 24.1 per cent identified as Chinese, whilst 32.1 per cent identified as Hongkongers.

Identity index

The survey also asked respondents to rate separate identities between 0 and 100 points – the higher the index, the stronger the positive feeling.

The score for “Hongkongers” was the strongest at 73.8 marks, followed by “Asians” 70.7, then “global citizens” at 66.4. “Members of the Chinese race” was rated 64.4, “Chinese” as 62.5, and “citizens of the PRC” as 54.8.

Frank Lee Wai-Kin, Research Manager of Public Opinion Programme, noted that all figures dropped significantly, except “global citizens,” when compared to the last survey.

“Among them, the ‘identity indices’ of ‘Hongkongers’ and ‘members of the Chinese race’ registered record low since the development of such indices in 2008,” Lee said.

The results of the survey came after an interview of chief executive-elect on Tuesday, which she vowed to tackle pro-independence forces and foster the Chinese identity among toddlers.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.