Just published: “The Rise of ‘Localism‘ and Civic Identity in Post-handover Hong Kong: Questioning the Chinese Nation-state.” The China Quarterly, Vol. 230, June 2017, pp. 323-347.
The very short version:
This article argues that the new “localist” discourse in Hong Kong is mainly based on a Hong Kong-centered civic identity. As such it still overlaps with the traditional pan-Chinese civic nationalism (as manifested in June Fourth vigils), but is increasingly in conflict with the ethnocultural nationalist discourse that has become more prevalent in mainland China in recent years.
While it was traditionally accepted that Hongkongers shared a form of pan-Chinese cultural identification that did not contradict their local distinctiveness, over the last decade Hong Kong has seen the rise of new types of local identity discourses. Most recently, “localists” have been a vocal presence. Hong Kong has – quite unexpectedly – developed a strong claim for self-determination. But how new is “localism” with respect to the more traditional “Hong Kong identity” that appeared in the 1970s? The present study takes a two-dimensional approach to study these discourses, examining not only their framework of identification (local versus pan-Chinese) but also their mode of identification (ethno-cultural versus civic). Using three case studies, the June Fourth vigil, the 2012 anti-National Education protest and the 2014 Umbrella movement, it distinguishes between groups advocating civic identification with the local community (Scholarism, HKFS) and others highlighting ethnic identification (Chin Wan). It argues that while local and national identification were traditionally not incompatible, the civic-based identification with a local democratic community, as advocated by most participants in recent movements, is becoming increasingly incompatible with the ethnic and cultural definition of the Chinese nation that is now being promoted by the Beijing government.