Pursuing dreams in an Asian global city : Does host language proficiency matter for Asian minorities?

Jin JIANG, Hon-Kwong LUI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


Asians who are not attracted by western culture may pursue their dreams in an Asian global city. While most people in Asia do not use English to communicate in their daily life, past literature on international migration focuses on English-speaking countries. This study uses Hong Kong (branded an Asian global city) as a case study to examine whether mastery of a native language (Cantonese) and/or English, a dominant non-native language in the commercial sector, determines the economic success of Asian migrants. Contrary to the general expectation of the importance of the native language, this study finds that a mastery of English and the official language of China (Putonghua) instead of Cantonese generates higher earnings for Asian minorities. The language advantages for earnings are mediated by the attainment of high-paid occupations. This study suggests that immigrants’ assimilation in a host society is not just a local problem but relates to the global and regional contextual factors of the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-378
Number of pages19
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number2
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by a Start-up Grant (No. 162660) from the Hong Kong Baptist University.

Publisher Copyright:
© Urban Studies Journal Limited 2022.


  • colonial history
  • demographics
  • employment/labour
  • global power structure
  • globalisation
  • migration
  • race/ethnicity
  • 殖民历史
  • 人口特征
  • 就业/劳动力
  • 全球权力结构
  • 全球化
  • 移民
  • 种族/民族


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