Pursuing dreams in an Asian global city: Does host language proficiency matter for Asian minorities?

Jin Jiang, Hon-Kwong Lui*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Asians who are not attracted by western culture may pursue their dreams in an Asian global city. While most people in Asia do not use English to communicate in their daily life, past literature on international migration focuses on English-speaking countries. This study uses Hong Kong (branded an Asian global city) as a case study to examine whether mastery of a native language (Cantonese) and/or English, a dominant non-native language in the commercial sector, determines the economic success of Asian migrants. Contrary to the general expectation of the importance of the native language, this study finds that a mastery of English and the official language of China (Putonghua) instead of Cantonese generates higher earnings for Asian minorities. The language advantages for earnings are mediated by the attainment of high-paid occupations. This study suggests that immigrants’ assimilation in a host society is not just a local problem but relates to the global and regional contextual factors of the city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-378
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number2
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • colonial history
  • demographics
  • employment/labour
  • global power structure
  • globalisation
  • migration
  • race/ethnicity


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