Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeIssues2018/3Special featureAsylum Seekers as Symbols of Hong...

Special feature

Asylum Seekers as Symbols of Hong Kong’s Non-Chineseness

Gordon Mathews
p. 51-58


This article discusses the situation of asylum seekers in Hong Kong and how it has changed in recent years. Hong Kong treats asylum seekers relatively well compared to some other societies, but at the same time, the chance of being accepted as a refugee is virtually zero. Although it is illegal for asylum seekers to work, it is virtually impossible for them not to work given the miniscule government support they receive. Amidst government neglect, asylum seekers have emerged as heroes among some Hong Kong young people after the Umbrella Movement. Whereas in years past, asylum seekers were generally ignored or looked down upon by Hongkongers, among some youth today, asylum seekers have emerged as symbols of Hong Kong’s non-Chineseness.

Top of page


Bibliographical reference

Gordon Mathews, « Asylum Seekers as Symbols of Hong Kong’s Non-Chineseness », China Perspectives, 2018/3 | 2018, 51-58.

Electronic reference

Gordon Mathews, « Asylum Seekers as Symbols of Hong Kong’s Non-Chineseness », China Perspectives [Online], 2018/3 | 2018, Online since 01 September 2019, connection on 01 December 2020. URL : ; DOI :

Top of page

About the author

Gordon Mathews

Gordon Mathews is Professor and Chair at the Department of Anthropology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.Room 407 Humanities Building, New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong (

By this author

Top of page


© All rights reserved

Top of page
  • Logo CEFC – Centre d’études français sur la Chine contemporaine
  • OpenEdition Journals
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search