3 May 2016

Survey Findings on Views on the Use of Putonghua and Simplified Chinese in Hong Kong
Released by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at CUHK



A telephone survey was conducted from 19 to 22 April 2016 by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong to gauge public views on the use of Putonghua and simplified Chinese characters in Hong Kong.  722 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 41.8%.  The sampling error is + or –3.65 percentage points at a confidence level of 95%. 

Major findings are summarized as follows: 

In this survey, the respondents were asked about their views on teaching Putonghua and simplified Chinese characters to primary and secondary school students in schools. Over four-fifth (84.6%) of the respondents agreed to teach Putonghua in schools while 10.4% disagreed. For simplified Chinese characters, about two-fifth (41.0%) of the respondents agreed to teach it in schools whereas about half (50.8%) of the respondents disagreed. The respondents were also asked if they agreed to use Putonghua to teach Chinese language in primary and secondary schools. About half (51.5%) of the respondents agreed but 37.6% of the respondents disagreed. 

Concerning their own use of Putonghua and simplified Chinese characters, about two-fifth (40.2%) of the respondents said that they occasionally used Putonghua, 15.5% reported that they used it frequently, 33.1% replied that they rarely used it, and 11.2% responded that they did not use it at all. For simplified Chinese characters, about one-third (32.4%) of the respondents said they rarely used it. 12.0% and 29.6% of the respondents respectively reported that they frequently and occasionally used it, while 25.5% replied that they did not use it whatsoever. More than one-third (35.3%) of the respondents said that knowing Putonghua was quite useful in their life and work and another one-third (36.7%) answered that it was somewhat useful. 11.9% reported that it was very useful and 14.5% replied it was not at all useful. For simplified Chinese characters, while one-third (36.4%) of the respondents did not find it useful at all, another one-third (36.1%) found it somewhat useful in their life and work. One-fifth (20.8%) found it quite useful, and 5.5% found it very useful.

Respondents were also asked whether they feel happy, resistant or indifferent about using Putonghua and simplified Chinese in Hong Kong. About 14.4% of the respondents had some resistance in using Putonghua in Hong Kong, while another 14.3% said they were happy to use it. 70.8% replied that they were indifferent. For simplified Chinese characters, there were about one-third (31.6%) of respondents having some resistance to use it in Hong Kong. 10.1% reported that they were happy to do so, and 56.3% said they were indifferent. 

Finally, questions on whether Putonghua and simplified Chinese characters will become the most commonly spoken and written language in Hong Kong after 20 years were also put to respondents as well. Over half (55.5%) of the respondents expected that Putonghua would not substitute Cantonese to become the most common spoken language in Hong Kong after 20 years. 6.6% anticipated that it would while 27.0% said “in-between”. Meanwhile, more than three-fifth (61.4%) envisaged that after 20 years simplified Chinese characters would not become more popular than traditional Chinese characters. Only 5.7% of the respondents predicted that it would, whereas 21.8% reported “in-between”.

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