torsdag 14. februar 2019

Hong Kong Identity and the Rise of Mandarin

“They say if you want to kill a city, you kill its language” said Claudia Mo, Member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, in a recent video for Vox Borders. Mo was referring to the fact that in recent years, Hong Kong’s evening news has been broadcasted in Mandarin, China’s national language, even though the vast majority of Hong Kongers speak Cantonese.

Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997, the importance of Mandarin in the special administrative region has grown dramatically due to Hong Kong’s growing interconnectedness with China. Since the turnover, an average of 150 Chinese mainlanders have immigrated to Hong Kong each day, and with the mainland’s large economy and huge population, being able to speak Mandarin has all but become a requirement for any job involving finance, trade and tourism. In 1996 it was reported that 65,892 residents in Hong Kong spoke Mandarin as their first language; 20 years later, in 2016, that number has risen to 131,406 residents: a 99.4 percent increase. 

This has led to many headaches in Hong Kong’s education sector, where parents debate whether they should be sending their children to schools taught in Mandarin or Cantonese.