Why Greeks in Hong Kong and the Great Bay Area?

Posted on 4 February 2024

Limited in comparison to the hundreds of thousands settling in Germany and the UK before and after the 2010 financial crisis, Greek presence in Hong Kong has unique characteristics which deserves a more thorough investigation. Hong Kong returned to the Chinese rule only in 1997. Since Hong Kong was under colonial rule, the government encouraged migration inflows for settlement from Australia, America and Europe to fulfil several vocational and administrative posts. Entrepreneurs were also encouraged to settle, enhancing bilateral agreements and collaborations. A century and a half of British colonialism left a significant imprint upon the local population, the landscape, the sociopolitical conditions and character of Hong Kong.

Today, the city with its international financial centers, trading hubs, high growth rate and its unique combination of Western and Eastern cultures, still exerts a strong appeal to white-collar workers around the globe. Strategically located at the centre of the economically vibrant Greater Bay Area, it acts as both point of entry to the mainland and as China’s gate to the world.

Many Greeks have come from the Greek communities of Australia and the US. At the same time, the long distance from Greece has not deterred the Greeks from settling there, especially since the prevailing linguistic and social conditions are familiar to them. However, is this fact enough to explain their considerable numbers in Hong Kong? Certainly, the Greeks in the modern era do not arrive in Hong Kong as laborers and workers. At first glance it seems that study and business opportunities attracted them to this area, opportunities that were rather scarce back in Greece.

Based on diplomatic and consular documents, testimonies of local settlers and other archival material, in 2010, 350 Greek families settled in China and Hong Kong. The growth of China’s economic power attracted 1500 Greek settles between 1992 and 2010 alone. According to the Greek Consulate General of Hong Kong/Guangzhou, today the number of the Greeks in Hong Kong amounts to 200 individuals.

The study of the Greek migrants in Hong Kong is almost completely neglected by modern Greek and international ethnography. Some works in the Greek language were produced many decades ago but they are few and outdated scientifically. Moreover, within Greece the field of historic and current migration to Asia is underfunded and unrepresented even in the bigger state universities. Questions about migration are particularly pertinent in southern Europe today because of the current humanitarian crisis surrounding refugees from Syria and the Middle East. Thus, the examination of the Greek presence in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area will fill this gap and enrich the content, context and the general understanding of the dynamics of modern-day migration, identity, entrepreneurship and beyond.

Our study

Drawing on the local historical and geographical context, our study seeks for the first time to explore the voices and everyday lives of the "early" Greeks, who settled in British Hong Kong in the 80s and the 90s, as well as of the most contemporary ones.

We will use respondent driven sampling (RDS) to conduct in-depth interviews to explore their motivations behind their journeys, the psycho-social, political and economic dimensions of their everyday lived experiences in the acculturation processes, as well as their connections, engagements and disengagements with Greece and local communities. We also use short surveys and public documents to collect additional demographic information about the Greek presence in Hong Kong and the Great Bay Area.

*The principal investigators are Professor Stavroula Tsiroganni (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China) Dr Nikolaos Mavropoulos (Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China)

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