Representation for Hongkongers in US Census: Write In Hongkonger Campaign

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A campaign is pushing for the representation of the 200,000 Hong Kong-Americans in the 2020 US Census.

The Write in Hongkonger campaign is advocating for the representation of Hongkongers in the 2020 US Census taking place this month.

Despite there being an estimated 200,000 Hongkongers living in the US, most are lumped in as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Other Asians’ without a specific designation. However, there is an option to tick ‘other’ and write in your own national identity. 

 “A question I always get asked by senators is ‘How many Hong Kong people are living in the US?’” says Ms Francis Hui, a young advocate for We The HongKongers, a newly formed US organization that attempts to strengthen bonds between the two countries. 

According to Ms Hui, a similar campaign for a Taiwanese identity was staged in the lead up to the 2010 Census and resulted in a 65 percent increase of people identifying as from Taiwan and led to the final census report including Taiwanese as its own category separate from Chinese.

Mr Charles Lam, spokesperson of Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles, says that it is “essential” for American residents of Hong Kong heritage to identify themselves as Hongkongers. 

“For the Hongkonger campaign, the census data will assist elected officials to identify the size of Hongkongers in their community, where people of Hong Kong heritage often have a distinct political take compared to other Chinese communities, which we hope to influence politicians’ decisions in different levels of the government,” he explains.

While it may be bold, this campaign is not without its problems. Although international students, non-documented residents, and temporary workers are all allowed to take part in the census, many are unaware it is an option. The issue was made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent many students back to Hong Kong a week before the census ends. 

“I was aware of this campaign…but thought it didn’t apply to me because I was not a US citizen,” says an NYU student from Hong Kong who has asked to remain anonymous. 

She argues the Hong Kong identity is too much of a grey area, as the census requires a definition along ethnic lines for which a burgeoning national identity like Hong Kong’s does not strictly fit. 

Nonetheless, she believes there to be little harm in increasing Hong Kong’s representation. 

“By all means, if one has a strong affinity to Hong Kong and a need to differentiate themselves from the mainland Chinese, feel free to write Hongkonger under ‘Other Asians’.”

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