Chinese Britishness
in Hong Kong and British culture, 1945–97
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This chapter argues that the Government generally showed little interest in turning Hong Kong people into Britons, and there is little evidence that many Chinese ever identified subjectively as Britons. Even the Anglophile entrepreneur Sir David Tang positively disavowed subjective Britishness, while the majority of Hong Kong’s Chinese always had limited English skills. At the same time, particularly before the 1980s many migrants from Hong Kong to the UK, most from the New Territories, remained more connected to their home villages than to the UK, a point that has been depicted by novelist Timothy Mo. On the other hand, an instrumental Britishness was often displayed in political rhetoric, especially after the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989. In this context, advocacy groups including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants asserted that the Britishness of Chinese and South Asian subjects entitled them to the right of abode in the United Kingdom, a claim that was supported by Member of Parliament Bernie Grant and vigorously rejected by Member of Parliament Enoch Powell, and ultimately by the Government. In addition to instrumental Britishness, certain elements of British culture have been incorporated into popular assertions of Hong Kong identity.

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