Indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories (Hong Kong)

Indigenous inhabitants, Chinese: 原居民; Hong Kong Hakka: Ngien2gi1min2, refers to the people descended through the male line from a person who was in 1898, before Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory was signed, a resident of an established village in the New Territories of Hong Kong.[1] They have special rights to preserve their customs. When the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China in 1997, these special rights were preserved under the Hong Kong Basic Law.

Article 40 of the Basic Law

The lawful traditional rights and interests of the indigenous inhabitants of the "New Territories" shall be protected by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Special rights

Special rights are restricted to the village that the indigenous inhabitant is from. In order to protect the tradition of villages, male indigenous inhabitants have the right to apply for small house, known as Ting Uk (Chinese: 丁屋; Hong Kong Hakka: Den1 Vuk5). Properties are only inherited by male members of a village. The interests of indigenous inhabitants are represented by the Heung Yee Kuk (Chinese: 鄉議局; Hong Kong Hakka: Hiong1 Ngi4 Kiuk6).

People living on boats

People have been living on boats in the New Territories for generations, and they do not usually own land or houses. They have no special rights because the Hong Kong government since 1898 only recognizes established villages (Chinese: 認可鄉村; Hong Kong Hakka: Ngin4ko3 Hiong1con1).

Conflicts between indigenous and non-indigenous inhabitants

As a result of a large influx of non-indigenous inhabitants into the rural villages, conflicts between indigenous and non-indigenous inhabitants are surfacing. Because the management of a village was only in the hand of indigenous inhabitants, non-indigenous inhabitants could not participate in the matters of the village.

The indigenous inhabitants of Hong Kong spoke Hakka, Hokkien, and Yue Chinese Weitou dialect which is different from the newcomers who spoke contemporary standard Cantonese.

See also


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