Hong Kong — is not really China.
Formally, Hong Kong is a part of China. But as for me, in all the aspects — they have very little in common.
On my opinion, Hong Kong this purest example of a modern city-state, it’s more European than Chinese city — all thanks to the more Western mentality of its inhabitants. Locals often do not consider themselves Chinese at all, pointing out that they are Hongkoneese or Hongkongers. Without any hesitations, foreigners may also drop phrases like “Today I’m still in Hong Kong, and tomorrow I’ll have to fly to China” (referring to the Mainland) or “Oh, I do not want to go to China,” and similar expressions. This indicates that people residing in Hong Kong subconsciously do not rank it to the Republic of China. This fact is the reason for the wave of complaints from the continental Chinese.
To understand how it all began, let’s make a brief journey into THE HISTORY.
So, 1841. Great Britain leads successful opium war against the Chinese Empire of Qing.
When the British have landed on Hong Kong and the Kowloon Islands, they found only a small eponymous town of Kowloon (which means “Nine Dragons”). But at that time, Hong Kong was not that developed: it looked just like a fishing harbor, and was a haven for travelers and pirates.
After the victory of Britain in 1842, the island of Hong Kong became the possession of the British Crown. In 1898, a new convention has been concluded: it expanded the jurisdiction of the British Empire to further “New Territories” island. And so the land was owned by British for next 150 years. The islands started to evolve rapidly.
I think, since the territory has been ‘rented’ for 150 years, the people of that time have been perceiving this time period almost as an eternity, and the future was so foggy for them. That may be one of the reasons why today we have what we have.
So, at the end of the term, in 1997, Hong Kong went back to China and has been marked as a “Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.”
Today, it is the strangest city in terms its status. Though it is considered to be part of China, nevertheless it has its own guarded territory, government, laws and even currency,
I hope this brief information will be useful, especially for those who have often been to China but never in Hong Kong.
- Currency. Here it is not Chinese Yuan but Hong Kong Dollar. It is interesting that the HK banknotes are being printed by three different banks, so each note exists in three variations. On the old coins that were issued before 1997, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth can be found. According to the report of the Central Bank, the Hong Kong dollar is one of the 8 most used currency in the world.
1 US dollar equals about 6 Yuan and 7.5 Hong Kong dollars.
2.Language. In Hong Kong people speak Cantonese (dialect of the Chinese language) The second official language is English, so if you are planning to visit Hong Kong, you can leave your “Ni Hao” at home.
In China Mainland, they speak a dialect of Mandarin. Only big international companies have staff speaking basic English and locals barely able to link two words in a sentence (even in big cities). If you address to them in English, they would probably look at you as if you are an alien. Also, quite surprised, they may take a secret photo of you and simply laugh at the fact that you do not speak Chinese. Using English is considered to be near to worshipping the Western culture.
So if you really want to communicate with the Mainland locals, I suggest you to just wave your hands and mumble.
3.Navigation. In Hong Kong, all the signs, maps and info are on Chinese and English, so for the visitor it would be easily find their way. In China, everything is exceptionally on Chinese, and you can’t rely on the image indicating some object or a way to go! Also, no one will understand you and no one will help you. Again, I suggest mumbling and waving hands (maybe Morse code?).
4.Informational freedom. In Hong Kong, they run all world-popular web services — like Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Wikipedia and all news portals. But just cross the border to Chinese city of Shenzhen and you can say goodbye to all the services mentioned above, and to other accomplices of the sinister Western world. Last year, the Mainland government also wanted to block Skype. Despite the fact that the younger generation of China declares that they wanted to become more open to the world, on a governmental level, it is not so.
5. Access to mobile phone services. In Hong Kong, SIM card can be bought in any supermarket or underground.
In China, to purchase SIM card you need to register in the police district, come with your passport, visas copies, register in the office of the telephone company, spend 40 minutes to sign a bunch of papers and a contract, provide all your data, describe your family tree (at least 10 generations) — all just to get a small card.
6.Governmental system. China and Hong Kong has own governments. The laws are different.
In China, the law is automatically set to the Chinese side based on the fact, that you are not local. In Hong Kong, it is on the side of the foreigner, as a foreigner could not know some regulations, could be tricked or misled by someone.
7.Access to the country. If you travel to China, you need a visa and lots of documents. To go to Hong Kong — you simply need a passport. On arrival, you get visa on and just a little paper with a stamp. And so you can stay for two weeks. If you have a Hong Kong visa and want to go to China, you still need another visa.
So, SUMMING IT UP.
Hong Kong has never been a poor colony. People were able to carve the maximum benefit from the land ownership of the Britain, what we can’t totally say about other Asian countries , Vietnam (former French colony), Laos (French), Philippines (Spanish), Myanmar and Malaysia (used to be British too) and others.
Today, Hong Kong is a well-organized, absolutely safe city where characteristic features of the British past can be found, such as double-decker trams and left-hand traffic. The city is a full embodiment of the term “East meets West”, and because of this, Hong Kong became home to many Europeans. Here, the fast-paced Western lifestyle coexists with calm Asian culture, multi-storey cement buildings are located on the green hills creating great serene background, and the noise and bustle of the city are being complemented by peaceful beauty of nature.
Last memo for girls: Hong Kong remains the duty-free zone, so everyone who loves shopping, would just fall in love with the city!