Monday, September 24, 2007

Hong Kong

A semi-sovereign state now administered by the Chinese government, Hong Kong gives the appearance of an entirely different country from China itself: Chinese by ethnicity and culture, to be sure, but very different from the mainland. The city will be more familiar to westerners, though I would not describe it as western per se. This is a truely international city. While I was there, I saw plenty of British, Japanese, some Americans, French, Indians, and of course the majority Chinese population. The city is lit by neon and dominated by tall buildings, both offices and apartments with awesome views.

This is a mature economy. Sometimes Hong Kong is more reminiscent of parts of Tokyo, than Shanghai. Hong Kong continues to seek immigrants "of quality", which I take to mean professionals. The residents are clearly wealthy by world standards or in fact by American or European standards. The main economic driver is in finance, though retail and shipping are visible as well. A night time cab ride wound up behind two different Ferraris in 20 minutes. Hong Kong is certainly suggestive of the level of economic development that major Chinese cities will reach in time.

Hong Kong, of course, maintains it's own financial system (though currency is issued by private banks: my Hong Kong dollars were issued by HSBC). The Hong Kong stock market is highly successful. In fact, Hong Kong seems to be almost a pure capitalist system. Like the Chinese cities I visited, Hong Kong felt utterly safe. It also seems like a very attractive place to live and work. I can't think of a better location for sampling authentic foods from around the world, night after night.

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