Like Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong enjoys a mixture of both Western and Chinese. Hong Kong locals tend to refer to themselves as “Hong Kong persons” in English. In a recent survey, more than 67% self-identified as Hong Kong persons. Some prefer to call themselves “Chinese”, but the majority of people would be happy describing themselves as Hong Kong citizens. For those who speak English as a first language, there is no problem registering as a citizen of Hong Kong and gaining access to the wide range of benefits offered by themopolitan society of this part of China.
The population of Hong Kong is ageing, which has been an argument about the viability of the Hong Kong culture for years. But the arrival of a more youthful workforce, together with an increased role for the working class in Hong Kong business and trade means that the future of the “traditional” Hong Kong lifestyle is looking stronger than ever. There is also a feeling that things will be easier for the elderly when they age. This is something that is confirmed by the number of elderly hospitals in the region that have gone into private hands. While government funded healthcare and medical centres are set up for the aged, there is a move afoot to create an independent healthcare market where medical equipment is cheaper and care providers can cater for different needs. The future of Hong Kong is shaping up to be a city that looks younger than its past.
Many expats speak of the influence of their homes on their lifestyle and their choice of accommodation as an important factor in their decision to live in Hong Kong. One of the biggest challenges faced by expats is the adaptation to Chinese customs and behaviours. Many expats speak of having to face the language, culture shock and even the food at a new place as a big challenge. There is no doubt that the social environment in China is quite different from that in the West and expats often report a sense of being different even though they may have always been comfortable in China. They often speak of meeting new friends and being able to make friends with a different sort of mindset and it is this social dynamic that adds greatly to the excitement and fun associated with living in Hong Kong.
Expats also speak about the effect of their new life style on their knowledge of local customs and etiquette. This is seen as a challenge on many levels as many expats are not used to a fast pace of life and do not know what to do with the time they have on their hands. In fact, they face a culture shock when they first arrive in Hong Kong and this has to be overcome by finding time in their day to absorb the local culture.
With so many expats moving back to China every year it is vital that there is a continuous effort by the Hong Kong government to maintain the character and history of the local culture. There are many programmes and activities in place to help keep this alive. It is important for the government to show Hong Kongers how much their Chinese heritage means to them and that they are not forgotten. Many Chinese expats report that they find Hong Kong to be much more welcoming to them once they have become accustomed to its local culture.
The combination of British influence and Chinese culture is great fun for those who are relocating to Hong Kong but it can also be beneficial to the whole of China as such a strong local culture is important to maintain. For those who want to see for themselves what all the fuss is about, why not visit China and witness for yourself the vibrancy of its traditional culture? You might just find you fall in love with it!