A Red Flag for Participation: The Influence of Chinese Mainlandization on Political Behavior in Hong Kong
This article assesses how contemporary forms of regional assimilation by centralizing states affect the political behavior of threatened social groups within peripheral polities. Recent mainlandization, “the blurring of the physical, social, cultural and psychological border between Mainland China and Hong Kong,” has constrained the region’s autonomy. Here, we consider the political consequences of Chinese mainlandization. How does mainlandization affect the likelihood of political participation in Hong Kong? Drawing and expanding upon theories of social identity, we argue that mainlandization increases the political involvement among those who make the choice to identify as Hong Konger because this is the group under threat by China’s recent actions. Hong Kongers politically mobilize as a response to mainlandization to combat Chinese threat and to improve the status of their identity group, of which their own sense of selves is also tied to. Using an original survey experiment, we find support for our theory. Hong Kongers are influenced by mainlandization to attend contentious protests, recruit others to attend such rallies, and sign pro-democratic petitions. We conclude by noting implications for China’s increasing attempt to assimilate this electoral autocracy and discuss how our research informs Hong Kong political activism in 2019 and 2020.
Journal title, volume/issue number, page range
Political Research Quarterly, first published online on September 13, 2020, no printed version yet
International Relations and Politics