A Brief Modern History
After its occupation during the first opium war (1839 – 1842), Hong Kong became a UK colony. First the Hong Kong Island was ceased in 1841, then the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860, and finally the New Territories, which was leased to the UK for 99 years in 1960. Later, Hong Kong was occupied by Japan during the second world war and it wasn’t until 1945 that the UK gained back its control over HK. Under an agreement signed between China and UK in 1984, HK became Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) of the People’s Republic of China and was handed back to China in 1 July 1997. With regards to the handover, China promised a “one country, two systems” scheme and HK is able to enjoy high level of autonomy in all things except foreign and defense matters for the following 50 years… This is somewhat of a sensitive topic at the moment as the local Hong Kongers are slowly but surely feeling the pressures from mainland China in many aspects of their daily lives. That being said, due to the independent executive, legislative, and judiciary powers; Hong Kong was able to build relations with foreign states and international organizations in a wide range of fields on their own without much governance.
Thanks to this, it is people like you and I are able to strive and succeed in the markets here.
Hong Kong is a cultural melting pot which is heavily influenced by its Chinese roots and its time under British occupation. This combination makes for a unique culture with its very own identity. This will be a very import part of starting and growing your business. The people of Hong Kong will usually refer and identify themselves as Hong Kongers or Hong Kong Chinese in order to distinguish themselves from the mainland Chinese. In general try not to refer to Hong Kongers as Chinese. You also must understand that things like Feng Shui is nothing to laugh at over here. This can literally make or break a deal depending on who you are dealing with. As for sports, much like my home town, it is also a big part of the culture here. This is also due to the British occupation. Hong Kong has a high level of religious freedom (guaranteed by law); however, the majority (64%) is said to not believe in any type of religion.
One cannot talk about Hong Kong without mentioning the food. Whether it’s fast food or some of the world most sought after delicacies; Hong Kong has it all. From local food to fancy western cuisines, anything can be found (both expensive and inexpensive).
I must warn you: It gets very hot and extremely humid here in Hong Kong. The temperature stays relatively hot ~ warm throughout the whole year in European standards; however, the winter months can actually be quite chilly. Just to give you an idea, the highs hover between 20 and 33 degrees Celsius and lows between 14 and 27 degrees throughout the year. A low of 14 degrees seems warm enough but the buildings here usually do not come with heating; and the buildings seems to have been made with a design to let out heat. This means that you could be in an environment that is constantly at 14 degrees for some time. Yes, that can get cold…
As of July 2016, Hong Kong has a population of 7,167,403 and is made up of more than 200 islands. Ethnicity wise, it is by far comprised of Chinese (93.1%) and the others include Indonesians (1.9%), Filipinos (1.9%), and others (3%) according to a study in 2011. Hong Kong has two official languages: Cantonese and English. It is said that the English language is used by 3.1% of the population as an “every-day” language and 34.9% of the population uses it as their second language. After the handover in 1997, Hong Kong has seen a rise in mainland Chinese immigrants flowing in, bringing in more and more Mandarin speakers.
Hong Kong has grown into one of the largest leading Financial Centres and International Trading entities and I will get into this further in my next post. Today, I just wanted to focus on the brief overview of Hong Kong.
Whether you are looking at pictures of Hong Kong or just walking around town, one thing that is extremely hard to miss is the sheer amount and density of skyscrapers. Since, land is very scarce in Hong Kong, the only way to accommodate more people is by building up. Needless to say, this means that rent and purchase prices of flats are some one the highest in the world. This means we need to work extra hard to be able to afford it here!
In our next post we will start talking about businesses here in Hong Kong!