From Strangers to Friends: The Perceived Challenges and Expectations of Friendship between Mainland and Hong Kong Students = 從陌生人到朋友︰中港跨文化友誼的挑戰與期望

Yick Wah LEUNG, Baohua YU

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


With the internationalization of higher education, Hong Kong has attracted an increasing number of non-local students in the past decade, among which mainland students have been the most predominant group. However, it seems that there is an accelerating tension between Hong Kong (HK) and mainland China, as evidenced by the umbrella movement in 2014 and the anti-extradition protests in 2019. Nonetheless, studies on understanding friendship formation between these two “sibling cultural groups” are very limited. To fi ll this research gap, this study adopted a mixed-method approach to explore students’ perceived challenges of mainland- HK friendship formation. An online survey and a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted at one university in Hong Kong. It was found that language difference, cultural difference, and the lack of common topics were perceived as the three main challenges. First, the language difference caused more anxiety and reduced students’ willingness to communicate. Second, cultural difference was reflected in the perceived incompatibility of working style, work-life balance, and values and beliefs. While cultural differences attributed to intercultural conflicts, they also led to the difficulty in seeking common topics. Implications of the influential factors for mainland-HK friendship at the individual and contextual level were discussed. This study also shed light on what roles the university should play in facilitating intercultural communication between local and non-local students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-130
Number of pages50
JournalChung Cheng Educational Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • friendship development
  • intercultural communication
  • intercultural friendship
  • mainland-Hong Kong relationship
  • overseas study
  • 友誼發展
  • 跨文化溝通
  • 跨文化友誼
  • 中港關係
  • 外地留學


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