Behind the “racism” of the 2019 Hong Kong protests

Katy Pui Man Chan


Scholars, intellectuals, and left-wing activists have recently come to reflect on the hostility and exclusion of Hong Kong protesters against mainland Chinese in the city’s democratic movement. This article is a response to the critical voice. Borrowing from Wing Sang Law’s (2008) conceptualization of colonial power as a network of relations, I argue that the power relationship between Hongkongers and mainlanders has been changing amid China’s rapid economic growth and extending cultural influence. The Hong Kong identity is no longer necessarily privileged over the mainland one. Individual mainland Chinese are not entirely neutral apolitical subjects, but inevitably placed in the grids of the power network of Chinese colonialism over Hong Kong. As such, the relevant questions for a truly liberating prospect for the movement concern to what extent and in what ways we can effectively differentiate “Chinese” from “China” in present Hong Kong amid evolving coloniality.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/716918