Whether you’re moving to Hong Kong for work or to take up residency for other reasons, here are a few tips and bits of information to help make the transition easier.
Officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the two official languages are Chinese (Cantonese) and English. Often described as a place where East meets West, Hong Kong is an exciting and well-developed city with excellent world-class facilities. Its sub-tropical climate makes for hot and humid summers, with occasional showers and thunderstorms, and cool winters. Public transportation service is excellent and reliable.
Before entering Hong Kong, find out if you need a visa. You will most probably require a visa to work, which your employer should be able to do for you. Your employer should be able to assist you with registering with the local authorities for income tax purposes.
Before moving, consider opening a bank account that will allow you to manage your affairs both in Hong Kong and your home country. Most banks allow you to manage your accounts via their websites.
Make sure that your health insurance is up-to-date. In Hong Kong, most doctors and medical facilities do not accept credit cards and will ask for immediate payment.
Although Hong Kong embraces the fast-paced, western-style business environment, the predominantly Chinese population means that that business protocol is very much influenced by Chinese customs and traditions.
Business is based on a system of mutual obligations and favours, and relationships of trust. In this hierarchical society, be sure to respectfully greet and show deference to older and more senior people. In a group, always address them first. The usual Chinese greeting is a slight bow, but many will shake hands with Westerners. Always have your business cards ready for exchange, and remember to receive cards with both hands. Carefully and respectfully inspect the card before placing it on the table or in your card case.
Punctuality is also very important. Aside from fixing appointments ahead of time, be sure to let them know who will be coming along for meetings so that appropriate seating arrangements can be made according to protocol. It is common to conduct small talk before the main discussion begins, which is usually initiated by the senior representative. Make sure that your presentations are well researched, based on fact, and given modestly.
In business and social matters, it is essential to be polite at all times. Above all, do not make them “lose face”, where they feel that they have been disrespected, insulted or denigrated. Avoid aggressive sales techniques, negative comments and responses, and be prepared to make compromises.
Gift giving is an important part of life, especially in business where gifts are usually presented during Christmas and Chinese New Year. Take the time to wrap the gifts carefully, but avoid using white, black or blue paper because of their negative connotations in Chinese traditions. Use both hands to accept gifts, but open them later in private.