Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow

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Convener: University of Oxford China Centre

Speaker: Ben Bland

Ben Bland is the South China correspondent for the Financial Times and the author of Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, a new book published by Penguin that examines the growing tensions in the Hong Kong-Beijing relationship through the lens of young people, identity and generational change.

He argues that the intensifying frictions between Beijing and Hong Kong are not just driven by economics (high property prices and a lack of social mobility) or politics (a failure to deliver on promises of democracy), as commonly stated.

Instead, he argues identity is paramount: many Hong Kongers who have come of age since the handover grew up with little connection to the mainland. They are rejecting a Chinese identity they see as dominated by the Communist Party, while their Hong Kong identity is both threatened and reinforced by the ongoing political clashes with Beijing.

Ben will discuss his research and the wider changes in Hong Kong, as well as what this tells us about the direction of travel in China.

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