Hong Kong, known as one of the Four Asian Tigers, maintained high growth rates and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s and has developed into an advanced economy. Operating under the People’s Republic of China as a special administrative region, Hong Kong is one of the most bustling regions of China. Once a consolation prize to the British during the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was officially returned to China in 1997. The British used Hong Kong as a place to earn money and Hong Kong has become the financial capital of Asia.
Hong Kong Chinese are very fast-paced and look to the future, but still hold onto their Chinese cultural ways, including Confucian beliefs, concepts of acknowledging hierarchy, and guanxi (gwuan-she). Business meeting decorum, Chinese banquets, punctuality, and business card exchanges are all similar to practices on the mainland. However, Hong Kong has developed a personality all its own.
Whereas mainland Chinese speak Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese reigns supreme here. English is the lingua franca so don’t worry about having to memorize the six tones of Cantonese, your English will most likely be your mode of communication as many businesspeople speak English. In fact, with the language barrier no longer existing, you may find yourself more comfortable here than most of Asia, as this culture is highly westernized, resembling cities of Europe or the United States. Many people here are western educated and employ modern western modes of thinking more often that intuitive or associative modes of thought. There is little use of, or time for, silence as this city is fast-paced, where people speak very fast and very loudly, in both English and Cantonese. Since Hong Kong has special administrative privileges, there is also a free flow of information, as opposed to censored China.
You will also find that women play a larger role in business in Hong Kong, as opposed to China, where they adopt many western customs and habits. Hong Kong Chinese tend to Anglicize their names, and married women tend to adopt their husbands names (taking the form taitai-“Mrs.”). Hong Kong is also a huge shopping society and are avid followers of high-fashion, so while the signs may be in Chinese, you may feel like you’re in an another fashion capital in Europe. This is such a consumer culture that China allows visitors to enter Hong Kong (to spend money) in order to boost the Hong Kong economy.
When giving gifts in Hong Kong, your gifts tend to be more valuable and Western luxury-types, imported liquors, name brand items, etc. During the Chinese New Year red envelopes are filled with cash (crisp new bills, no even amount or number of bills) as a traditional gift, hong bao (hong-bow). Business people give these to associates who provided assistance during the previous year (but no one government related!) or to employees by employers.
Now that you know a little bit about Hong Kong, perhaps you will find your Golden Egg.