Yinbing LEUNG (Hong Kong Baptist University), The ˇ§Action Plan to Raise Language Standardsˇ¨: A Response to the Economic Restructuring in Post-colonial Hong Kong, English/28pages, July 2005.
Hong Kong's economy relies heavily on export trades and on services offering to other countries. The language policies formulated are affected to a certain extent by her external economic activities. The political, social and economic structures have changed rapidly after the handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997, forcing some linguistic realignment in the society. Putonghua (the national language of China) becomes more popular, partly due to the political factor, but mostly due to Hong Kong's gradual economic dependence on her. Although English is a former colonial language, it is regarded by the local community as a language for social mobility. In the review on language policy in Hong Kong (2003) by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), many suggestions are devoted to the enhancement of English and Putonghua proficiencies of the students and working population. Little attention is given to the local dialect--Cantonese. In this paper, I would discuss that the actions suggested in the review are in favour of English and Putonghua to guarantee Hong Kong's ability to communicate with the West and China, and her competitiveness in the world economy. The success in promoting Putonghua is a combination of different factors, such as national identity, cultural affinity and economic rationality. Cantonese is the mother tongue of nearly 90% of the population, but its linguistic value is lower than English and Putonghua. Its status may be greatly reduced in the future.