Multiculturalism in Hong Kong : We all HongKongers

Multiculturalism in Hong Kong : We all HongKongers

In Hong Kong, multiculturalism is not a label, dogma or an insult;
it's a way of life. 

Hong Kong, one of the Alpha+ world cities and the most densely populated areas in the world, with more than 7.3millions population, overall density of some 6,300 people per square kilometre, with a pluralistic society. People of different races and different cultural backgrounds live in an environment where there is a small area with a large population living a fast-paced life. A social atmosphere of harmony, inclusiveness and mutual respect is very important. 
As a native HongKonger, how much do you recognize the different races in Hong Kong? Let's take a look at 10 of the most common ethnic groups in your neighbourhood.



  • Estimated to be 85,000 Americans in 2018.
  • Various ethnic backgrounds: native-born Americans, Chinese AmericansHong Kong Americans, Americans returned Chinese
  • Many come to Hong Kong on work assignments; others study at local universities


Britons never made up more than a small portion of the population in Hong Kong, despite Hong Kong having been under British rule for more than 150 years. However, they did leave their mark on Hong Kong's institutions, culture and architecture.


  • At least 295,000 Canadians in Hong Kong
  • Near 85% of Canadians in Hong Kong are Canadian-born with a large portion of these are ethnic Chinese. 

Han Chinese ( Shanghainese, Tanka)

The flood of emigration of Shanghainese people, from Shanghai to Hong Kong began in 1937 with the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and grew as the Chinese Civil War resumed in 1946.

  • Estimated 1.4 million people from Shanghai are estimated to have fled to Hong Kong
  • Enduring a 10-day rail journey, often switching to road transport or foot where tracks were damaged.
  • Shanghainese are credited for Hong Kong's transformation from small trading outpost into a manufacturing powerhouse, as well as significant role in commercial and financial links between mainland China and Hong Kong.[1]

The Tankas or boat people are a sinicized ethnic group in Southern China[3] who have traditionally lived on junks in coastal parts of China from Zhejiang, Shanghai alongside Hong Kong and Macau. Though many now live onshore, some from the older generations still live on their boats and pursue their traditional livelihood of fishing. 

Historically, the Tankas were considered to be outcasts. Since they were boat people who lived by the sea, they were sometimes referred to as "sea gypsies" by both Chinese and British.


  • The largest ethnic minority in Hong Kong, numbering approximately 130,000[2]
  • Many of whom work as foreign domestic helpers
  • Other Filipino professionals in Hong Kong working as architects and civil engineers, information technology professionals, professional services (accounting, culinary, dentistry, design, finance, law, music, pastoral ministry ) , service industries[citation needed] in the Central business district[citation needed], and also in Hong Kong Disneyland as entertainers or other cast members.[4]

The French Consulate estimates there are over 25,000 French citizens in Hong Kong.[1] It is the largest French community in Asia.[2]

Indonesians in Hong Kong, numbering 102,100,[2] form
The second-largest
ethnic minority group numbering 102,100 from the territory, Most Indonesians coming to Hong Kong under limited-term contracts for employment as foreign domestic helpers

Japanese people in Hong Kong consist primarily of expatriate business people and their families, along with a smaller number of single women.[3] As of 2010, 21,518 Japanese people had registered as residents of Hong Kong with the Japanese consulate there.[4] 

Koreans in Hong Kong formed a population of 13,288 individuals as of 2011, a mid-range size compared to Korean diaspora populations in other cities in China and Southeast Asia.[3]

Russians in Hong Kong form one of the territory's smaller groups of expatriates and a minor portion of the worldwide Russian diaspora. Many Russians from China passed through Hong Kong in the 1950s through 1970s on their way to resettlement in Australia, Brazil, and Canada.

South Asians (Nepalis, Pakistanis)
Hong Kong has a long-established South Asian population. As of the 2016 by-census, there were at least 44,744 persons of South Asian descent in Hong Kong.[1] Many trace their roots in Hong Kong as far back as when most of the Indian subcontinent was still under British colonial rule and as a legacy of the British Empire, their nationality issues remain largely unsettled. 

Thais in Hong Kong form one of the smaller populations of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, and a minor portion of the worldwide Thai diaspora.

Many of the Vietnamese people in Hong Kong immigrated as a result of the Vietnam War and persecution since the mid-1970s. Under the auspices of humanitarian policy by the United Nations, some Vietnamese refugees were permitted to settle in Hong Kong.

The illegal entry of Vietnamese refugees was a problem which plagued the Government of Hong Kong for 25 years. The problem was only resolved in 2000. Between 1975 and 1999, 143,700 Vietnamese refugees were resettled in other countries and more than 67,000 Vietnamese migrants were repatriated.[2]


Hong Kong is well-known as a cosmopolitan city with a population from all nationalities and cultures. Among them, the "coexisting and noncommunicating" problem has long been forgotten by society. Due to differences such as education level, large cultural differences, and language barriers, which make it difficult for them to truly integrate into the mainstream society of Hong Kong.

During the social movement last year, the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong were originally not the main players in this wave of demonstrations However, after Jimmy Sham, the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, who organized many protests in recent days, was injured in an attack, there are internet rumors that the attacker was a local ethnic minority. Online discussions once reported that it would impact places where ethnic minorities live: Chungking Mansions in the center of Kowloon District, and even nearby mosques. However, the direction of the discussions quickly changed and pointed out that it should not be due to the actions of some people to blame the entire community.

Some South Asian and Southeast Asian ethnic minorities in Hong Kong took the opportunity to take the initiative to distribute bottled water and food to the demonstrators during protests to show solidarity and friendliness to the Hong Kong Chinese community and express the message “We are all HongKongers”, hoped to show the unity of the two sides to the Chinese residents of Hong Kong. Their acts have received much cheered and support.

“Hongkongers are not defined by race — we connect!” — why didn’t we before?
Maybe it's time for us to take a step forward to get to know your neighbourhood, to understand, respect and work well with other HongKongers from diverse cultures and to open to those raised in different countries, cultures and religious settings because in the end, we are all HongKongers and global citizens as a whole.

1. "Population – Overview | Census and Statistics Department". Government of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
2. ^ glenday, craig (2013). Guinness World Records. pp. 121ISBN 9781908843159.
3. ^ "Race Relations Unit - Demographics". Retrieved 4 February 2020.
4. ^ 2016 Population By-census – Summary Results (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2016. p. 37. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 14 March2017. Photo reference:
1. 少數族裔和區議會選舉 2019/11/22, The Stand News
2. 【抗暴之戰】We connect後 南亞人的身份迷霧 2020.01.13, Apple Daily
3. 跨越世界拉近距離 互文教社(ICE) 羅偉鴻香港青年協會讚好校園
愛無界婚宴 宣揚種族融和 2009年09月28日, 基督日報

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