HK, staying relevant..

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  1. #1

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    HK, staying relevant..

    I'm in a very expat building, in a very expat area and every day I hear of more and more people moving out. Some have been fired but most work for companies who are relocating their head offices to places that offer better opportunities, are cheaper to live in etc. Places like Singapore, Shanghai, some are even 'going back home' so that they have no Asian based headquarters, prefering to have the whole team in Europe. (as an example)

    Am keen to hear people's thoughts on where HK will be in say, 2 years time, what it will look like (demographic profile) and what HK could do to stop the flow of quality businesses moving on.

    I for one think it would be great if HK offered permanent residency after say a few years, not 7. I think HK also needs to tackle lifestyle issues, like pollution, lack of green spaces (that people can actually use- not just look at or hike through) traffic.

    Anyway, go for it.


  2. #2

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    Been hearing this a lot... in the 90's before handover, post crisis '97, after and during SARS and now during yet again another crisis yet HK endures and thrives...

    Times shall pass and things will return to normal soon enough. Not that I wouldn't like Hong Kong to work on the pollution problem but I like many would much rather be here than in Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok or wherever.

    In bad times people leave, in better times more will come back...


  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpecialK
    I for one think it would be great if HK offered permanent residency after say a few years, not 7. I think HK also needs to tackle lifestyle issues, like pollution, lack of green spaces (that people can actually use- not just look at or hike through) traffic.

    Anyway, go for it.
    What difference does it make if you are going to reside in Hong Kong permanently? 7 year or 17 years.

    I also can't agree with the lack of green spaces. Yes the pollution is bad but I am not here for that. I love everything Hong Kong has to offer and I don't think you'll ever find another city like Hong Kong. Hong Kong is great the way it is.

  4. #4
    fm7

    A couple of weeks back the Monocle Weekly podcast was focused on HK and the question was asked about what Hong Kong "stood for" and how strong its "brand" was.

    In recent years the city hasn't done a good job of tackling a lot of quality of life issues, preserving its heritage/uniqueness or growing as a cultural/intellectual hub. What it has done is grow on the back of banking, retail and shipping, which are three areas that have been hit hard and will continue to struggle.

    Outside those three years, HK has been sliding for a while as a regional hub and there's no reason to believe that won't continue. HK suffers from being a comparatively expensive place to base a regional office and locate expats. In the current market companies will only continue to be less generous in giving people a "choice" about where they locate.

    Moreover, in the next 20 years HK will become just another city in China. Whilst it might continue to be a cool place, companies will face the challenge of why they should pay a premium to base expats in HK as opposed to, say, Kunming or others.

    That lesser "prestige" might turn out to be a good thing. I feel there is a passion to grow the local creative culture and more focus on design, music and art, together with a revived film industry could make HK a more fascinating place to live and visit.


  5. #5

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    FM7, i agree with your assessment completely.

    Gilles, whilst I agree that HK has been hit in the past I don't things will rebound like they have done before. As fm7 points out, it is retail and shipping that have been hit very hard. Finance will rebound but once manufacturers (retail) and shippers have moved on they will not come back. The cost base is just too high (especially when you look at the lifestyle that what you're paying for offers) and why would you move away from where the real action is? In the past, companies that left HK simply went 'back home' (say the UK, Australia, US) for awhile until things settled down. Companies now aren't leaving Asia, they are simply moving their Asian hq's. What's the incentive for them to have two hq's in the region or to come back? I think HK does need to worry about its future.

    Thunda, please tell me where you enjoy 'green spaces' in HK? My kids would love to know where they can go and actually run on grass rather than it being cordonned off with signs saying 'keep off'. HK is a great city, I haven't said otherwise but it's better for singles or couples with no kids.


  6. #6

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    good alternatives?

    I understand the debate. However, Shanghai is not really a good alternative as a regional hub (could qualify as a China hub) and Bangkok does not seem to fit that bill either. So I think we are primarily talking about Singapore.

    What does Singapore offer that Hong Kong does not? I agree that rents are probably lower and it does not have pollution issues. Singapore from what I have observed ---> no hills/mountains, outdoor activity is limited due to high heat and humidity year round, taxes are higher than HK. Even rent and cost of living is catching up with HK.

    I probably have a better chance of moving to Singapore given that Chinese language skills have become almost mandatory for in-house legal positions in HK. HK seems to be positioning itself as a China hub rather than a regional hub. There is a downside to this. As a potential expat, I find HK much more appealing. But, what matters is which city is more appealing to multinational corporations. I currently work for a Fortune 100 company in the Financial Services industry and Singapore is our Asian hub. My two cents.


  7. #7

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    red marks?

    Any ideas why I have infamous red marks by my username? Pretty sure I did not see these until this morning.

    Have I done something inappropriate? If so, please bring it to my attention.

    Last edited by [email protected]; 24-02-2009 at 01:47 AM.

  8. #8

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    Hong Kong will continue to be a dominant Asian city for many reasons and I believe these make HK a superior place to do business.

    Best airport in the world and one of the best airline(shanghai nowhere near)
    Best selection of English speaking schools by far(neither Shanghai nor Singapore are near)
    One of the best port facilities in the world( on par with Shanghai and Singapore)
    Excellent weather(better than SG hot and humid all year round)
    Access to excellent workforce with good english speaking skills(on par with Sg, better than Shanghai)
    Next door to China who will undeniably be an economic power for many years to come(on par with Shanghai, better than Sg)
    Stable and fairly well governed without too much corruption(on par with SG and way better than Shanghai)

    Personally, I don't think that in general, pollution and rent will trump all those other reasons though in some cases it does make people leave.

    You can't change geography and most of these factors are not going to change in the short term. The economy and rents on the other hand change fairly quickly hence some of the natural movements that will happen. For some companies it may make sense to move to Shanghai or Singapore and I believe these two cities will continue to be major players but that doesn't mean HK will lose out significantly. The essence of business is growth which leaves room for everyone to become successful.


  9. #9

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    Gilles

    Agreed wholeheartedly with you, I've been out here a year now and can anticipate myself being out here for at least another couple of years.

    I have a love/hate relationship with this city but would I move anywhere else in the world right this moment in time? Heck No, My lifestyle is great out here and when people say Singapore I just think ewww too clinical.

    [email protected], Your comment about chinese language skills being almost mandatory in the legal positions in HK so you'll look at Singapore, Sorry but you need to be flexible and make yourself more marketable in this town, The days of just rolling up with say a western education and only being able to speak English are long gone.


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpecialK
    Thunda, please tell me where you enjoy 'green spaces' in HK? My kids would love to know where they can go and actually run on grass rather than it being cordonned off with signs saying 'keep off'. HK is a great city, I haven't said otherwise but it's better for singles or couples with no kids.
    Well you may not have kiddie parks where you can toss a ball but there are not too many cities where you can be on hiking trails within minutes of leaving your house on foot. I can walk/run to Shek O/Big Wave Bay, Stanley or the peak, have a swim at the beach and come back home within a few minutes of my home which is also right in the heart of the city near the MTR/shopping/restaurants.

    One of the reason HK feels so crowded sometimes is because everything is built up in the same areas. In reality, more than three quarters of Hong Kong is actually green spaces and more than a third country parks. It's really no that hard to find green spaces...

    Not too many cities in the workd can claim that. Certainly not in SG, Shanghai or BKK...

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