Before its sovereignty being reclaimed by the motherland in 1997, Hong Kong recognized English as its official teaching language in most schools, yet in the actual teaching process, Cantonese was also used.

Although it could not be fully generalized at that time, Mandarin was introduced to schools in Hong Kong in the 1980s and became a core part of the syllabus in 1998. According to relevant surveys, when Hong Kong was returned to China from Britain, only a quarter of the local population could speak Mandarin. Twenty years later, that number has nearly doubled. ACE CHINESE TRANSLATION had written an article about these differences between these two variants.

However, even as people have become better at communicating in Mandarin, some of them in Hong Kong have begun to be resistant to it or even refused to speak it at all. Chan Shui-Duen, professor of Chinese and bilingual studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says that Mandarin is not popular with some of her students. She said, “Especially among young people, the overall level of Mandarin is improving, yet some of them just refuse to speak it.” This is because Mandarin has become an unwelcome reminder for many people that Hong Kong is becoming increasingly “assimilated internalized”.

Despite the growing resistance against the Mandarin language, there is an acknowledgment that fluent Mandarin, spoken by nearly a billion people around the world, could be the key to Hong Kong's wealth and success.

Since the handover, people in Hong Kong have gradually put a premium on speaking Mandarin. In the past, some Hong Kong people would look at someone speaking Mandarin or with a Mandarin accent with prejudice. Today, schools and institutions are scrambling to offer Mandarin courses. In Hong Kong, it is often heard from a friend that someone spent thousands of Hong Kong dollars on a course to learn Mandarin.

Mandarin is required for many companies and institutions in Hong Kong when recruiting; it is already common in the city.

"When my first child was two years old, I started to look for a suitable kindergarten. To my surprise, the most popular schools in Hong Kong are all teaching in English or Mandarin rather than Cantonese. Cantonese is the default language for almost everyone in Hong Kong.” Ruth Benny, the founder of Top Schools, a Hong Kong-based education consultancy, told me that 99% of her clients, both local and foreign, were very fond of mandarin. I was really shocked.

"In my opinion, Cantonese is not valued at all informal education,” said Ruth Benny, Founder of the Hong Kong’s leading business school. She said that families in Guangdong are happy that their children can be “socially fluent”, but would prefer that they learn Mandarin, the standard written Chinese.

When two different dialects come into contact, the "weaker" one will move closer to the "stronger" one, and the dialect speakers will actively abandon their mother tongue and choose the stronger dialect, thus resulting in the weaker one to be replaced. This is the most fundamental reason for the decline in Cantonese usage in Hong Kong and Macau.

There is a high sense of identity for Cantonese dialect in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau. Cantonese is generally considered to be a strong language in Guangdong, and there have been many attempts to defend it.

Two decades after its sovereignty reclaimed from Great Britain back to Mainland China, there is a growing preference for Mandarin in education in Hong Kong, with a declining preference for Cantonese, causing resentment and anxiety among some Hong Kong residents.

They are afraid that Hong Kong's unique culture and identity will eventually be eroded by the Mainland and possibly be assimilated in the daily immersion. Some people questioned whether this language, together with the unique city life to which it is closely associated, is fading into history.

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