Column: The distinction between Hong Kong and China

While I am technically from China, I tell people that I am from Hong Kong because there is a notable difference between the two.

As an international student, one of the most frequent questions I was asked when I got to campus was usually, “Where are you from?” and my first response to them was always, “I am from Hong Kong.” Yes, Hong Kong is a small city in China. Yes, we are a part of China. So why do I not just answer, “I am from China"?

I think most Hong Kong locals understand where I am coming from, but I think that it is not something everyone knows about.

Hong Kong was once a British colony. Hong Kong was ruled by the British Empire, and that explains why our road and building structures are very similar to Britain’s nowadays, why drivers sit in the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road. After 1997, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to China. But Hong Kong benefited from the British Empire, inheriting the higher quality of education for its people and the anti-corruption effort in the police force.

Lately in Hong Kong, lots of anger and grievance are flowing among locals. More and more people from mainland China came to Hong Kong for vacation, shopping, for official imported goods, or even came to Hong Kong to give birth to their babies, as I mentioned last week. Hong Kong has a different constitutional principle, called “one country, two systems,” which allows Hong Kong and Macau to retain their own capitalist economic and political systems, unlike in China, making life very different for Hong Kong residents than mainland Chinese residents.

The anger and grievance of Hong Kong people, however, came from the immersion of the different culture that was brought with some people from mainland China. Hong Kong people were faced with challenges like people cutting in lines, littering or even public urination and defecation. Hong Kong locals cannot endure these behaviors, as they are not acceptable to the general public.

The “Umbrella Revolution” that was first started in Hong Kong September 2014 was one of the reactions to the influx of mainlanders to Hong Kong. As the China's National People's Congress has announced that there will be restrictions on the election of Hong Kong's next chief executive in 2017, Hong Kong people fear that the “one country, two systems” will soon be disbanded if the Chinese government takes all control of Hong Kong. Eventually, Hong Kong will lose its order.

There are feuds on the Internet about the disputes between Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kong people are not happy about the way that mainlanders do not respect Hong Kong’s culture. Even though Hong Kong is a part of China, Hong Kong people referred themselves as being from Hong Kong instead of China. I am sure this behavior can only be reflected some, not all, mainlanders, but it is enough to understand why Hong Kong people hate accepting mainland Chinese coming to Hong Kong.

So, next time you go travel overseas, remember that your behavior does not just reflect yourself but also the people where you come from. It is better to leave a good memory of your people than a bad impression to people overseas.

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