Politics of incorporation and exclusion: Citizenship and Immigration Issues

Hon-chu Leung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


With a population consisting largely of immigrants and their children, Hong Kong is often referred to as “a society of immigrants,” as if the term can define its essence. On the other hand, if official restrictions on immigration and popular prejudices against “new immigrants” are any guide,1 Hong Kong is not very welcoming to its immigrants, even when, or especially when, they came from Mainland China, where the bulk of its population originated. The apparent paradox, this chapter argues, could be explained by a review of immigration history and immigrant policies in relation to the changing meaning of residence in Hong Kong. Through a dialog with the literature on citizenship and a historical examination of official strategies of immigrant incorporation, it discusses how the particular form of citizenship practiced in Hong Kong has led to the creation of the “new immigrants” as an excluded group. Reviewing the controversy over the right of abode in Hong Kong after the end of the colonial era, it discusses also how an escalation of anti-immigrant discourses on the notion of “population quality” to justify discriminatory immigration rules has led to the tying of social rights to economic contributions, in other words, a marketization of citizenship. This subordination of social values to economic concerns, this chapter argues, excludes not just families split by immigration restrictions, but also the poor, the lowly educated, and the inappropriately skilled-people unfit for the post-colonial official vision of Hong Kong as a “national world city.” Conditions for these socially exclusionary discourses and policies in the practice of citizenship in Hong Kong will be proposed in the conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemaking Citizenship in Hong Kong
Subtitle of host publicationCommunity, nation and the global city
EditorsAgnes S. Ku, Ngai Pun
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780203400333, 020364946X, 0203671066
ISBN (Print)9780415332095, 9780415396721, 0415332095
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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