Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese global city

This course is not offered for study in the current academic year.

Course description

This course examines Hong Kong as a Chinese global city and its position in relation to the Pearl River Delta and the national China’s economy. By understanding Hong Kong as both Chinese (Cantonese-speaking) by majority and a global finance center by historical construction, students will be introduced to basic readings on urban sociology, global cities and Hong Kong studies. Students are expected to learn more about Hong Kong’s position in the Asia region and the multiple challenges facing the city, including global economics and China’s rapid development as well as current debates on democracy and civic society.

This course is divided into three components with the first part focusing on the historical perspective of Hong Kong by studying the inter-relations between colonial government administration and policies, manufacturing industries and migration patterns. The second part of the course will explore the complex anxieties surrounding the year 1997 in relation to its historical significance in political, economic and socio-cultural terms. The last component of the course will investigate how Hong Kong measures up to the standards of being a Chinese global city and address future issues facing the ongoing development of Hong Kong in the larger schema of China’s global economy and its impact on local understandings / identity crises of the city’s positioning.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, you should be able to:

  • Identify the key features of Hong Kong’s colonial history and development into a Chinese global city
  • Reflect critically upon the challenges and prospect of Hong Kong in maintaining its position as an Asian world city
  • Relate what has been learnt in class to daily experience
  • Connect the knowledge acquired in class to an analysis of Hong Kong as an Asian city in a group project report
  • Apply presentation skills and cooperate in group work


Tutorial participation10%
Tutorial group presentation10%
Group project50%
Individual Reflective Exercises30%

Required reading

There is no textbook for this course. However, the following titles will give you a comprehensive review of the current debates on the sociological studies of Hong Kong society.


Abbas, A.M. (1997) Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [Chapters 1 and 3]

Bickers, R. and Yep, R. (eds.) (2009) May Days in Hong Kong: Riot and Emergency in 1967. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Chapter 1]

Chiu, S.W.K, and Lui, T.L. (2009). Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City. London: Routledge. [Chapter 7]

Chow, R. (1998) Ethics after Idealism: Theory, Culture, Ethnicity, Reading. Bloomington: Indian University Press. [Chapter 9]

Law, W.S. (2009) Collaborative Colonial Power: The Making of the Hong Kong Chinese. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Chapter 7]

Lui, T.L. (2015) “A Missing Page in the Grand Plan of “One Country, Two Systems”: Regional Integration and its Challenges to Post-1997 Hong Kong”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 16, pp.396-409.

Ma, E.K.W. (1999) Culture, Politics and Television in Hong Kong. London: Routledge. [Chapter 4]

Mathews, G. (1997) “Heunggongyahn: On the past, present, and future of Hong Kong identity”, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 29(3), pp.3-13.

Mathews, G., Ma, E.K.W. and Lui, T.L. (2008) Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation. Oxon: Routledge. [Chapter 4]

Yep, R. (2013) “Understanding the autonomy of Hong Kong: looking beyond formal institutions”. In: R. Yep (ed.) Negotiating autonomy in Greater China: Hong Kong and its sovereign before and after 1997. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. pp. 1-28.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

This course challenged my perceptions about Hong Kong in many ways, provided new perspectives to think about things happening around me, and stimulated me to reflect on my experience in Hong Kong.
– Fred Zhuo, 4th year Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science student

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