Monday 18 December 2017

Hong Kong leader vows crackdown as Chinese identity shunned

Venus Wu

Only 3.1pc of Hong Kong youths identify themselves as "Chinese" or "broadly Chinese" - a historic low, as the former British colony prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule.

The Asian financial hub, has been rocked by youth-led protests demanding democracy in recent years.

It is governed under a "one country, two systems" agreement that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy after Britain handed sovereignty back to China on July 1, 1997.

A new survey for Hong Kong University polled 120 youths between the ages of 18 and 29.

When the regular half-yearly survey started in 1997, 31pc of youths identified themselves as "Chinese in a broad sense", and 16pc said they were "Chinese".

The latest results showed that 93.7pc of youths see themselves broadly as a "Hong Kongers", compared to 68pc in 1997.

In a wider survey of more than 1,000 people of all age groups, found that about 63pc of respondents said they were broadly "Hong Kongers" while about 35pc said they were broadly Chinese.

Those numbers are similar to the 1997 results.

Many Chinese government officials have in recent months expressed concern over Hong Kong youths' reluctance to embrace a Chinese identity.

Among them, China's third-most senior official, Zhang Dejiang, who also oversees Hong Kong affairs, stressed the need for strengthening what was described as "national education".

Media reports yesterday said the incoming head of Hong Kong's governing authority Carrie Lam has said she will tackle pro-independence moves in Hong Kong and do more to foster Chinese identity among toddlers.

Previously, she dismissed claims that pro-independence views in Hong Kong are widespread.

"I believe most people in Hong Kong never consider independence to be feasible. The next SAR (government) will strictly carry out its duties according to the law, because all pro-independence behaviour violates local laws.

"We must strictly enforce the law," she said yesterday in an interview with CCTV, a state broadcaster.

Meanwhile, rapid economic growth in mainland China since the Hong Kong handover has closed a once gaping income gap. The ranks of mainland China's wealthy will again grow by double-digits this year but industry expansion will cool as economic growth slows and government oversight of financial products increases, a report said on Tuesday.

The 2017 China Private Wealth Report, by Bain Consulting and China Merchants Bank, put the number of high net worth individuals (HNWI)- with at least 10 million yuan (€1.3m) of investable assets - at 1.6 million yuan in 2016, nearly nine times the number a decade earlier.

The report, issued every two years, forecasts a slower growth pace for the wealth business this year, but still sees substantial gains.

It projects an 18pc increase in HNWIs to 1.87 million yuan by the end of 2017, and a 14pc increase in China's private wealth market to 188 trillion yuan from 165 trillion yuan. In 2014-2016, the market grew 21pc annually, the survey said.

According to the report, around 120,000 HNWIs had at least 100 million yuan worth of investable assets, compared with fewer than 10,000 people in 2006. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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