Differences Between Hong Kong + Mainland China

In china business by Michael Michelini10 Comments

Update – I keep a much more update to date article on my Global From Asia blog on differences between Hong Kong and Mainland China but keep this one for the archives, enjoy.

Been in Hong Kong again these past few days, and always a bit of a touchy subject, depending on who you ask,either a person from hong kong or a person from mainland china. define hong kong as a special political and economic zone, so for those who have never been to china or hong kong, lets start with the basics:

  • Currency – hong kong has its own currency, the hong kong dollar, which is fixed to the us dollar at around 7.78 to 1 usd. China, on the other hand has the chinese yuan, or reminbi, that has been a focus of news lately as america and europe have pressured china to have it appreciate in value. Now….think here, if you are in hong kong, doing business in hong kong dollars that are pegged to the usd….this really sucks! But then, imagine you are in nainland china….taking a trip over to hong kong is much cheaper, right? Travel, shopping……real estate…..you get the idea
  • Filtering of Internet – because hong kong is a special case, it does not have to regulate/filter its internet like mainland china does. Therefore, if you followed the news when google left china, it actually moved to hong kong, on google.com.hk – and sites like facebook, twitter, and the others are no problem to access from hong kong.
  • British influence in hong kong – i have been to london, uk for a month back in 2003 and there are many resemblances here in hong kong. It was developed by the british and lots of the infrastructure here still remains. Cars drive on the left for exmple, like they do in britain, but in mainland, on the right side like usa and most other places. Also the MTR subway (or tube) does have the british “tube” feel – very well developed and extensive system covering most of hong kong, it is one of the best in the world that ive been on, and is privately owned. For those of you who have been in london, you will know the “please mind the gap” that is repeately played on the loudspeaker and signs everywhere. Its not as obnoxious here in hong kong, but there are signs and other similarities as london.
  • cleanliness – jeez, hong kong goes above and beyong with being clean….plenty of groundskeepers and garbage men, always sweeping, cleaning, organizing….they have TV commercials reminding people not to leave stagnant water to keep put mosquitoes and teaching people to cover their mouth (with a facemask) when they are sick and on public transportation.
  • Spitting – tied to the cleanliness section above, but deserves its own point, its always a joke that “mainlanders” commonly spit on the streets and are less sanitary, being more of less educated farmers. Its actually a law in Hong Kong against spitting, and fine-able.
  • Language – while its not a clear line between hong kong and china…..as south china also speaks the same language, its becoming more and more clearly defined that hong kong people speak cantonese and mainland people speak mandarin. Yes, i know places in china like guangzhou and some of shenzhen, and other places in china’s guangdong province speak cantonese…..but most focus on mandarin as its the national language of china.
  • Visa / passport – its still far superior to hold a hong kong passport over a chinese passport, as with a hong kong passport you can quickly move between china and hong kong, and hong kong passports are much more easily and readily accepted internationally.
  • Language / education – hong kong is much more advanced in its school system and language submersion, having had more foreign influence and learning to deal with and accommodate various visitors coming in to visit.

So…..now the fun + interesting part – what do these differences mean, and create, especially in today’s political and economic state?

Many people in Hong Kong I talk to are ANNOYED that mainland Chinese are coming in so much, buying up so many goods, buying up real estate, inflating real estate prices. Also annoyed the Hong Kong dollar is dropping against the RMB (as the HKD is tied to the USD), and that the Hong Kongese people have to focus more on learning Mandarin language to deal with this influx of Mainland Chinese into Hong Kong.

As I believe everyone knows, china has continually been getting richer these years….and “powerful / respected” internationally…..this has obviously annoyed and made hong kongese people…as they seem to be “fading” a bit from the spotlight.

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  1. Another thing to mention. It is illegal to urinate in public places. Could be obvious for some, but you can see it quite frequently in Shenzhen, but not in HK. Also Macdonalds and KFC tastes much better in HK.

    1. Author

      agree on the better taste of McDs and KFC in HOng Kong for sure

      they just opened Burget King here in Shenzhen, definitely not the same taste as the awesome ones in HOng KOng

      and hey, whats the big deal with urinating in public!! LOL

  2. gossshhh this is so true … the news paper shuld public this!!!!
    those chinese (china ppl) always compare themselves as hongers
    we HONGERS should not be call chinese!!!!
    we might be a race of chinese but we are different from ppl who are from china!!!!
    just like eurpeans and americans altho they’re both classified as Caucasian or white ppl but they’re different!!!

    1. Author

      yea Yar,
      unfortunately the general public is not fully educated on world culture and therefore lumps all kinds of people into generalized groups….sad, but reality we have to deal with.

  3. “buying up real estate, inflating real estate prices. ” sounds like Sydney.

  4. OMG I’m glad there are people who are aware of the differences between HK and China and the fact that HK people are pretty annoyed with mainland Chinese. Seriously I think the “one country two systems” and all the bullshit they talked about in 1997 mean nothing now. The Chinese government and mainlanders are penetrating into every aspect of HK life. I won’t be surprised if HK turns into another generic city like those in China where there are “patriotic” people everywhere (ie people who agree with everything the government does because that’s what they think being patriotic means)

  5. Thank you! This is very helpful as I’m trying to choose between going as an exchange student to Hong Kong or china 🙂

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