In Hong Kong this month, millions of people took to the streets to protest a recent attempt by the Chinese Communist government to undermine Hong Kong’s free and democratic institutions and bring it under Beijing’s control. It’s not clear yet whether the protest will succeed, but it has certainly made an impression, not just on the people running the People’s Republic of China, but on the entire world.

In addition to its size, the protest has been notable for the unity and determination displayed by the participants. The following graph, which shows how Hong Kong residents’ sense of identity has changed over the years, may provide an explanation.

Whereas in the United States and Europe, people seem to be more and more inclined to  self-identify on the basis of race or religion or nationality, in Hong Kong people seem to be more and more inclined to self-identify in terms of their commitment to a set of political and economic institutions, namely, the liberal, democratic institutions that were put in place when Britain ruled Hong Kong as a crown colony. This is a very heartening development. If the residents of Hong Kong can come together as a unified people on the basis of their shared commitment to freedom and democracy, maybe we can too!

H/T: Tom Grundy