Transnationality, Mobility and Belongingness of Chinese Cross-Border Students

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Anita Kit-wa CHAN, The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
While globalization has facilitated massive transnational movement of goods and information, human cross-border flow remains heavily regulated and controlled. However, Chinese cross-border students is an anomaly. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, substantial numbers of young children – who are Hong Kong residents but live in the mainland, have been traveling across the border to school. Being the physical embodiment of transnationalism, these children navigate constantly two social spaces – Hong Kong and mainland China – that have different social, political, economic and jurisdiction systems. Based on in-depth interviews with 16 cross-border students aged 10 to 12, this paper explores how young children negotiate belongingness – preferred place of residence and identification – amidst their mobility experience. The findings reveal that child migrants are active agents who displayed subtle considerations when negotiating complex physical and emotional needs. Their narratives also illuminate a transnational space which is characterized by closer socio-economic ties between the two societies, the rising prominence of China, and not least the social and spatial hierarchy between Hong Kong and the mainland. Moreover, their identification, dis-identification and ambivalence with the identity of ‘Hong Konger’ clearly shows that parents’ socio-economic, (illegitimate) migration and marital status have impacts on cross-border students who have to actively grapple with stigmas and marginalization. The discussions will illuminate the importance of power and inequalities in relation to border-crossing and of intersectionality when understanding the experiences of migrant children.