Everyday mixed status: spillover effects of state power in Mainland China-Hong Kong cross-border families

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the growing literature on cross-border families, previous studies examining the role of the state primarily focused on the regulations that shape the vulnerability and legal dependence of the female marriage migrants on their husbands. This focus may lead to a false assumption that state power embodied in the marriage migration regime operates only at the individual and spousal levels. In light of this, this article aims to bridge the literature on cross-border marriages and mixed-status migrant families to illuminate the ways in which state power spills over from the individual to the family in the case of Mainland China-Hong Kong cross-border families. Through the lens of mixed-status, this article argues that even though some state measures may only target the non-citizen marriage migrant, their effects unavoidably spill over to other citizen family members who are interconnected and interdependent. In particular, the prolonged waiting period for marriage migrants to obtain residency in the host country has not only limited the residence choice of the family but also crippled the capacity of the marriage migrants to perform their caregiving duties and gain economic and social protection, which subsequently weakened the functioning, relationships and overall well-being of the entire family. By regularizing and routinizing the delay of granting of residency to marriage migrants, the state creates a transient, liminal space to detain unwelcome immigrants for its own interests, which contradicts the marriage migration system’s ostensible goal of facilitating family reunification of geographically dispersed family members between Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643–659
Number of pages17
JournalGender, Place and Culture
Issue number5
Early online date5 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by Hong Kong Research Grant Council General Research Fund (grant number GRF2120461).


  • citizenship
  • cross-border marriage
  • Mainland China-Hong Kong
  • migration
  • Mixed-status families
  • state


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