What is unique about Hong Kong

“... a fine way to capture a piece of the magic of a unique city. The drama, the charm and the beauty of Hong Kong is all here - just as is its breathless energy. "

Nury Vittachi, Hong Kong: The City of Dreams


Hong Kong is indeed a unique city and it is difficult to describe in a few words - a major economic center between tradition and modernity, historical monuments and magnificent skyscrapers, ancient temples and a lively nightlife.

In March 2018, the excursion of the Master’s degree in Management VZ, accompanied by Prof. Dr. Britta Rathje and Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ostheimer to Hong Kong.

After China lost the Opium War, Hong Kong was occupied by the United Kingdom in 1841. After an agreement between China and Great Britain, Hong Kong has officially been a special administrative region of China since 1997. The constitutional principle of “one country, two systems” allows Hong Kong a certain degree of autonomy, especially in order to exercise a market economy instead of a planned economy as in China. The People's Republic of China, on the other hand, is responsible for foreign and security policy.

Hong Kong is divided into three parts: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Around 7.2 million people live here in a very confined space. With almost 1,100 square kilometers, the area of ​​Hong Kong is only 1.2 times the size of Berlin; Mallorca is three times the size of the city-state! The mountains prevent the development of new living space, which is why high-rise buildings dominate the cityscape. The Hong Kong Chinese also make do with building up land on the coast. For example, Hong Kong's new airport was built on a completely man-made island. In addition to the airport, the seaport, which, together with Singapore, is one of the world's busiest ports, is immensely important and is considered the gateway to the world. In addition to the large turnover of goods, the many local banks also dominate Hong Kong's economy.

Probably the biggest downer is the housing market in Hong Kong. Due to the lack of space, living space is scarce and extremely expensive. Hong Kong is considered the most expensive city in the world. In some cases, even working residents have to live in the smallest of dwellings. The episcopal aid organization MISEREOR puts the number of so-called "cage people" at over 100,000. [1] People have to live in small cages in which there is only space for a mattress and a few belongings. And even those who own an apartment, as many Hong Kong residents told us during the excursion, prefer to spend their time outside the mini-apartments and prefer to be carried away by the impulsive city after work.

By the way - and as absurd as it may sound due to the lack of living space: The most expensive apartment in Asia is in Hong Kong and changed hands in 2015 for the equivalent of almost 70 million euros, which can now reside on 532 square meters and enjoy the view of Victoria Harbor.

During our excursion week we visited companies from a wide variety of industries. The following companies and institutions were on our schedule:

Mercedes Benz: The week started with a visit to Mercedes-Benz, during which we learned a lot about the automotive market in Hong Kong and Macau. At a subsequent lunch with international interns and local Mercedes-Benz employees, we tried a variety of Chinese specialties.

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce: At this interesting meeting we learned more about the economic and political situation in Hong Kong and discussed the future development of China and Hong Kong as well as the blossoming of the new Silk Road. It is based on massive investments to improve trade between Asia and Europe and at the same time to strengthen China's political influence in Central Asia.

Day trip to Shenzhen: We crossed the border into China to visit the world's largest electronics market in Shenzhen. Afterwards we heard a lecture on innovations in the field of IT.

Robert Bosch: The international company with Swabian roots presented its business areas to us. In a subsequent personal exchange with employees and the manager, we got more exciting insights into working at Bosch and life in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce: The AHK Hong Kong represents German business interests and promotes trade relations between Germany and Hong Kong. The tensions between Hong Kong and China, which are held in check due to Hong Kong's global economic position, were also discussed. A conversation that according to the speaker in the People's Republic of China “could not have taken place like this”.

GoetheInstitute: The Goethe Institute represents German culture in Hong Kong and gives language courses. In an exciting lecture we got to know the various activities of the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong.

Bayer Health Care: The pharmaceutical company Bayer presented the individual corporate divisions. We learned more about the work culture in Hong Kong.

City University: City University Hong Kong is one of the top universities in Asia. We got an insight into the education system and learned that the choice of kindergarten can be decisive for your professional future.

UPS: The logistics company introduced us to its corporate culture and gave us insights into the logistics industry in Hong Kong.

In addition to these interesting company visits, we also got to know the cultural diversity of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is definitely worth a visit. It was an exciting week of excursions with many different impressions.

Hong Kong is a symbol of globalization and holds on to its traditional roots despite the fast pace of life. Despite the western appearance of the city, traditional Chinese medicine, signs of the zodiac and numerical philosophies live on here. Millions of dollars are often paid for the correct combination of numbers on the license plate of the car - if you can afford it.

[1] MISEREOR article at: www.misereor.de/mitmachen/ausstellungen/cage-people/ (accessed on May 20, 2018)