CCCH9016 China: Culture, State and Society
Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

This course examines Hong Kong as a Chinese global city and its position in relation to the Pearl River Delta and China’s national economy. By understanding Hong Kong as both Chinese (Cantonese-speaking) by majority and a global finance centre 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 rise of the middle class and their consumption practices in the city. The complex anxieties surrounding the year 1997 will be discussed 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

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the key features of Hong Kong as an Asian world city.
  2. Reflect critically upon the challenges and prospect of Hong Kong in maintaining its position as an Asian world city.
  3. Relate what has been learnt in class to daily experience.
  4. Connect the knowledge acquired in class to an analysis of Hong Kong as an Asian city in a group project report.
  5. Apply presentation skills and cooperate in group work.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 10
Fieldwork / Visits 10
Reading / Self-study 20
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Assessment: Group project 50
Total: 154

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Participation in lectures 10
Tutorial participation and presentation 20
Fieldwork assignment 20
Group research project 35
Reflective writing 15

Required Reading

  • Abbas, A. M. (1997). Hong Kong: Culture and the politics of disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [Chaps. 1, 3]
  • Bickers, R., & Yep, R. (Eds.) (2009). May days in Hong Kong: Riot and emergency in 1967. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Chap. 1]
  • Chiu, S. W. K, Lui, T. L. (2009). Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese global city. London: Routledge. [Chap. 7]
  • Chow, R. (1998). Ethics after idealism: Theory, culture, ethnicity, reading. Bloomington: Indian University Press. [Chap. 9]
  • Law, W. S. (2009). Collaborative colonial power: The making of the Hong Kong Chinese. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Chap. 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, 396-409.
  • Ma, E. K. W. (1999). Culture, politics and television in Hong Kong. London: Routledge. [Chap. 4]
  • Mathews, G. (1997). Heunggongyahn: On the past, present, and future of Hong Kong identity. Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 29(3), 3-13.
  • Mathews, G., Ma, E. K. W., & Lui, T. L. (2008). Hong Kong, China: Learning to bbelong to a nation. Oxon: Routledge. [Chap. 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 (pp. 1-28). Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

Recommended Reading

  • Carroll, J. M. (2005). Edge of empires: Chinese elites and British colonials in Hong Kong. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [Chap. 1]
  • Chan Lau, K. C. (2005). Business and radicalism: Hong Kong Chinese merchants and the Chinese communist movement, 1921-1934. In P. T. Lee (Ed.), Colonial Hong Kong and modern China (pp. 169-184). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Chan, S. H. N. (2010). Queering body and sexuality: Leslie Cheung’s gender representation in Hong Kong popular culture. In Y. Ching (Ed.), As normal as possible: Negotiating sexuality and gender in Mainland China and Hong Kong (pp. 113-150). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Constable, N. (2009). Migrant workers and the many states of protest in Hong Kong. Critical Asian Studies, 41(1), 143-164.
  • Hui, P. K. (1999). Comprador politics and middleman capitalism. In T. W. Ngo (Ed.), Hong Kong’s history: State and society under colonial control (pp. 30-45). London; New York: Routledge.
  • Lo, K. C. (2013). Manipulating historical tensions in East Asian popular culture. In N. Otmazgin & E. B. Ari (Eds.), Popular culture and the state in East and Southeast Asia (pp. 177-190). Oxon & New York: Routledge.
  • Ma, E. K. W., & Fung, A. Y. H. (2007). Negotiating local and national identifications: Hong Kong identity surveys 1996-2006.  Asian Journal of Communication, 17(2), 172-185.
  • Scott, I. (1989). Political change and the crisis of legitimacy in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. [Chap. 3]
  • So, A. Y. (1999). Hong Kong’s embattled democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. [Chap. 3]
  • Tsang, S. (2007). A modern history of Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. [Chap. 1]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr G.P.F. Wong
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2065
Email: garypfhk@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr G.P.F. Wong
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2065
Email: garypfhk@hku.hk