This article examines the emergence of the Hong Kong Eurasian community through analyzing the rise of a transnational “Chineseness” in fin-de-siècle Hong Kong. Specifically, it interrogates competing visions of who qualified as Chinese in the years surrounding a 1902 debate over the proposed appointment of Robert Ho Tung, a Eurasian, as the Chinese representative to the Legislative Council. The article argues that the rising prejudice Eurasians faced in the early twentieth century prompted many Hong Kong Eurasians to disidentify with local Chinese and instead establish their own community. This prejudice was due to a hardening of racial typology from the mid-nineteenth century onward, a discursive process rooted in the increasingly racialized geopolitical landscape across the transpacific region during the same period. Transnational Chineseness, an interpretation of Chinese identity that privileged immutable racial characteristics above all else, entered Hong Kong discourse at the turn of the century. Hong Kong was a staging ground for a global racial discourse where competing conceptions simultaneously denied yet reified color lines.

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