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Hong Kong, a place where expats fall in love with

Editor: Li Shouen 丨CCTV.com

07-01-2017 11:02 BJT

By Li Shouen/ Qian Jingtong, CCTV.com reporters

Hong Kong is credited as a hub for international finance, trade and shipping, which could be considered the most internationalized region in China that attracts foreigners from around the world to work, study or travel here.

For many expats who have worked or stayed in Hong Kong for an extended time, it is natural to take it as their second home. They say it's convenient, safe, with excellent infrastructure and facilities, as well as full of opportunities……

Reasons to love Hong Kong

Herve Leleu, who moved to Hong Kong with his wife from Paris three years ago, works as an IT support engineer in a financial company in Central, Hong Kong. He has got accustomed to life and prefers to stay in HK "as long as I can have a job and my family like to stay here."

He said, "HK has very good infrastructure, excellent facilities, for example, there are sports centers everywhere, and there are lots of shopping malls. Life here is very convenient."

Herve Leleu (man in the middle) in an interview with CCTV.com  (Photo/Qian Jingtong)

Yet, Herve still feels himself 'foreigner,' since the culture differences make it challenging to mix with locals. And the 'cold winter' (because there is no central heating system in HK even temperature drops under minus zero) and hot summers cause irritations for him.

David Barral, partnering with Jorge Adiego, is running a Spanish language center in Wan Chai. He followed his ex-girlfriend to Hong Kong four years ago from Spain's fifth largest city Zaragoza.

Though the love story was a sad one, he found a new life here, "Hong Kong is totally different from where we are from -- very busy, very safe, so many people…everybody is working so hard and people are very nice."

As founder of a language center, David was especially impressed by the highly efficient procedures to start a business here, "it only took us about 2-3 days to run through the paper work and get a license for our language center, but back in Spain that might take 2-3 months!"

For David, what makes him annoyed is, "dealing with banks here is more irritating than in Spain, usually there are long lines and the banks don't seem to care much about their customers."

He also thinks the rent for office space is too high, "with the same amount of money we pay here for our office in Wan Chai, my friends in Zaragoza is renting an office that's 10 times bigger."

Angela Mcsheaffren followed her husband to Hong Kong 13 years ago when he was transferred from his company's London office to Hong Kong.

One of the reasons Angela loves Hong Kong is, as she said: "we are lucky that in Hong Kong we can appreciate Chinese festivals, as well as Western ones. We can enjoy both and have them all and that makes life so nice here."

There are more reasons to love Hong Kong. "We all love that it's such an easy thing to get around here – safe, clean and convenient."

Though her family loves to live here, missing their family back in the UK is a big problem for them, added Angela.

Changes and Unchanged

James Hirano has worked and lived in Hong Kong for 15 years, since he was transferred by his company from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

He recalled that when he first came to Hong Kong as a young man, he felt "it is a city full of energy and very vibrant; people work hard and play hard. It was just amazing."

James Hirano in an interview with CCTV.com   Photo/Qian Jingtong

To him, Hong Kong hasn't changed too much, "the city has changed just a little bit, but I think myself have changed more than the city, since I am older now I think HK is becoming more crowded and noisy, because something I once enjoyed is turning to kind of noise to me now."

He thinks the spirit of energy and hard-working has not changed. "If you work hard, there are lots of opportunities; if you want to make big money, opportunities are also there."

But he noted that as the mainland cities are developing rapidly, Hong Kong is facing tougher competition from them, including metropolises such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, and even from other smaller cities.

As for whether HK has changed or not, Angela believes, compared to 13 years ago, they feel it's a much better place than when they first arrived, for they arrived shortly after SARs hit the city, and later on there was the financial crisis in 2008.

After development of the past two decades, those who have moved back to the UK are considering to returning to Hong Kong. Angela shared the story of her friend.

"I know a girl whose family moved to the UK before the handover when she was a teenager. But now she came back to work. She loves Hong Kong because she had so many positive childhood experiences here."

Although his stay in Hong Kong is not so long to compare the changes in the city, Jorge has a vivid memory of how he first got the idea of Hong Kong's handover back to China.

"20 years ago, I watched a documentary about the handover of HK back to China in Spain, in which some people were talking to reporters and saying they were afraid and concerned about the future, so they chose to leave." He added, "I can even remember the last image of the documentary was a family leaving HK."

Yet, 20 years later, he would never imagine himself to be here in Hong Kong and get interviewed on HK's 20th anniversary of its handover by a reporter from Beijing.

"Personally, at that time, I thought Hong Kong might turn to Beijing, with no more skyscrapers booming up, etc. , but after 20 years, I was wrong, because you can see, Hong Kong is still pretty much Hong Kong while Beijing is becoming a metropolis more like Hong Kong."

Better Future for HK

Angela believes as the economic situation remains pessimistic in Europe and especially with the Brexit; Asia, especially Hong Kong would be more appealing for people in the UK, since some of them still have 'ties' here.

James told the reporter that after living in Hong Kong for 15 years he can feel people from mainland have brought much money and prosperity, and many opportunities to Hong Kong. The financial sector has been driven by support from the mainland.

Jorge observed that after 20 years, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, Hong Kongers are caring more about their economic situation and if they look around at the US, Europe and China, they can see the growth of Chinese mainland and realize it is a strong partner.

With strong support from Chinese central government, and driven by the Hong Kong spirit of hardworking and 'get-up-and-go,' Hong Kong will continue to be a better place, for locals, expats, as well as visitors.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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