Asia's World City see more
Hong Kong is Dead, Long Live Hong Kong
Written by Callan Anderson, Executive Director, Hong Kong Corporate Services Group
In 1925, the Hong Kong Governor Sir Cecil Clementi announced in the Times of London that Hong Kong would be over in 72 years. 1995, Fortune Magazine announced the Death of Hong Kong. 2003, Western Media said Article 23 would be the death of Hong Kong.
I believe the Hong Kong Government’s slogan for our city is Asia’s World City, and as far as I can see, that is exactly what it is.
If China wanted to damage Hong Kong by the direct imposition of Article 23, then it would also damage itself in the process, and I don’t believe that was the purpose for its promulgation. Hong Kong went through a year of protests which resulted in the new subversion, succession and treason laws, which most other developed countries also adopt. The scaremongering by some Governments of “if you go to Hong Kong you could be arrested” is merely that, scaremongering. There are many other counties in Asia that where even eating chewing gum can get you into trouble and luckily our Western judges in Hong Kong didn’t all run for the hills, as they know English Common Law still works here.
Let’s look at the facts as to why Hong Kong is important globally, if not more so for Mainland China. You can deduce for yourself if you think Hong Kong’s future will be less or more important in the future.
Today, Hong Kong is the world’s third biggest global financial centre (after New York and London). The status in itself is an asset of incalculable value that no other city in the European Union can claim. It took Hong Kong forty years to gain this status, whereas London and New York took centuries to gain the market size and liquidity to function as a global financial hub.
Trust and confidence in the fairness of Hong Kong’s system, knowledge that legal contracts mean something and institutions of advisors and financiers that provide the long accumulated knowledge to support trade through Asia and into China have been key to our success.
Not only does Hong Kong mean a great deal to Western trade, but also to China as Hong Kong manages over 70% of international trade volume in RMB. Only 2% of China’s international trade is carried out in RMB, thus the USD and the Hong Kong Dollar Peg is critical to China and Hong Kong’s future. Let us not forget that Mainland China banks do much of their international business in US Dollars via Hong Kong. There is no other replacement to Hong Kong within Mainland China as of today as the rule of law and a currency that is exchangeable is vastly important when attracting investment.
Hong Kong remains central to China’s economy as it is the main interface with global capital markets with the connection for most foreign direct investment to China going through Hong Kong, accounting for 78% of all flow. Acting as a conduit, Hong Kong is vital to China’s growth and Western economic success.
It is of no surprise to me that Chinese companies have raised over USD$350b in Initial Public Offerings in Hong Kong since 1997. This is about as much as the same amount of money Chinese companies have raised in all the other exchanges around the world combined.
Even the USA assigning Hong Kong as being no different from the rest of China, (therefore removing the preferential tax exemption that Hong Kong benefited from) fails to impact Hong Kong or China, but significantly adds to the cost of buying grain that came through the port of Hong Kong on its way to the USA from China.
My conclusion is that China has no intention of harming Hong Kong’s place as an international financial hub or as banker to China. We are still the best platform and base camp to enter China or any other Asian city where laws in the developing countries around Hong Kong are not based on English Common Law as Hong Kong’s are.
The argument that Hong Kong no longer has a high degree of autonomy can be summed up in that we need to use our passports to cross into China (there is a fenced border), we have our own seat on the ASEAN group of nations at the same level as China and we are signatories to the various international Covenants on Civil, Political and Economic Rights. I need not point out we also drive on a different side of the road to China and have our own Air Traffic Control! (The list goes on and on)
We can guess the future of this great city, but I think I have given you enough of a taste to suggest that Hong Kong’s demise has been greatly exaggerated from 1925 onwards.
This city is my home, and in some strange way, no matter what is thrown at it, it continues with a few bruises and bumps, but it continues to be the heart and soul of trade.
Don’t let the international press dishearten you as to Hong Kong’s current status and future, listen to people who live here day in and day out.
Be ready to jump into gear once global trade restarts ; economic indicators point to Asia first. see more
Hong Kong Time Machine
Written by Callan Anderson, Executive Director, Hong Kong Corporate Services Group
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has dropped a significant cloud on the entire world, in many ways at the same time proving and disproving the merits of the global economy and trading routes we have all come to depend upon. From shortages of basic necessities to anger at countries for allowing the virus to spread so quickly and so far, it is sometimes difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
For many in Canada, you are in a lockdown with the inability to go to your office let alone fly around the world for business and meetings that regularly filled the annual calendar of prospects, knowledge and sales. As I sit in Hong Kong where a lockdown, circuit breakers or quarantine have not been used, life is more or less the same despite everyone’s face being covered in surgical masks. Yes, the Hong Kong Government has won a high degree of praise from the international media in curtailing the epidemic in our city, mainly due to the very early closure of schools, kindergartens, universities and our borders with Mainland China. We also suffered, as did Canada from the SARS virus in the 2002, so our ability to handle a virus has been engrained in our medical services.
As of today, Hong Kong has one main border to China still operating via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which is not only Hong Kong’s main food route but also China’s artery to shipping and logistics in Hong Kong from the Greater Bay Area.
I do not underestimate the problems for Canadians who are self-quarantined at home, but I would urge those who are engaged or looking at doing business around the world that this is the perfect time to look at opportunities once the virus has subsided. I have used the comparison of H.G. Wells story of the Time Machine, where in our case we don’t know what button on the time machine we pressed, we don’t know where we will land and we don’t know when we will stop. In such a case, we need to be ready to jump into gear once the wheels of global trade restart, and based on all the economic indicators the starting point will be Asia.
Hong Kong has continued to be a dynamo of business where our office has not stopped since the outbreak in early January. China slowed dramatically, but has ramped up to almost 82% of industrial production levels in two weeks since Wuhan opened up. One of the biggest issues for China and Hong Kong is that most of the container ships or cargo planes are not in the right place globally since the pandemic started, but as a sign of the significance of goods coming in and out of China, domestic-and foreign-owned international cargo flights in China and Hong Kong are expected to hit 4,445 this week, over three times higher than the 1,014 flights made before the outbreak.
We have to remember that China is not only a manufacturing Hub it is also a middle class of 450m people that want to spend money and spend money on international goods. The first day that Hermes opened its flagship store in Guangzhou this week, it made USD$2.7m in one day of sales.
My point is that just as one part of the world is in darkness before the sun rises, there is a large part of our planet waking up and doing business after a tough battle with the COVID 19 virus. There are opportunities in Asia already and Hong Kong is very much able to be the conduit for this despite travel being difficult to impossible at this time.
China is still a very important market for Canada, but even if China seems too difficult in this period, there is a vast population in the rest of Asia, Australia and New Zealand that are back to business at different stages as the virus dissipates, which it will do just as SARS and the Spanish flu in 1918 did!
So my question is, when your time machine stops, are you ready and prepared?
Join HKCBA for a complimentary webinar on May 4th, 2020 where Callan Anderson will share an update on China, Hong Kong and Asia, expanding on the emerging opportunities for Canadian businesses.
We share Dermadry's success story on their expansion to Asia! see more
HK-Canada Connector: Dermadry Laboratories Inc.
In our second edition of the HK-Canada Connector, we share Dermadry's success story on their expansion to Asia. Read on to learn more about the company, why they chose Hong Kong, and what's up next in their global expansion plans.
Tell us a bit about your company and how Asia factors in.
Dermadry is a Canadian company that manufactures and sells a tap water iontophoresis device indicated for the treatment of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) of the hands, feet, and underarms. Licensed by Health Canada, our device combines simplicity with strict safety standards.
Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that affects nearly 5% of the global population. The rate is even higher among Asian populations. We have made it our mission to educate the public on the condition and make our device accessible to all.
Why did you choose Hong Kong?
Asians are genetically pre-disposed to suffering from hyperhidrosis. Since they generally sweat more than others, making our device available to them was one of our key priorities since the onset of our company. There is a lot of misinformation on hyperhidrosis, regarding causes and treatments. Some are not even aware that excessive sweating is a medical condition.
We felt that it was not only it was our duty to educate, but also make our device available in Asian countries as soon as possible.
Hong Kong is an incredible economic force, and one of our prime markets. Hong Kong’s regulations make it simple and accessible for us to do business over there. We’ve developed a cherished, mutually beneficial relationship that we’re always looking to expand upon.
Can you share a challenge your company faced and how you overcame it?
We want our company to be globally accessible, and therefore inclusive and representative of people from various backgrounds and ethnicities. We have been working on developing meaningful professional relationships with East Asian influencers. We are also working on developing professional relationships with medical professionals and distributors, in order to spread the word about hyperhidrosis and iontophoresis treatment.
Representation is very important to us, and so we select models from different backgrounds to demonstrate our device’s effectiveness. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that affects people around the globe, but targeting key markets is crucial for us, as our ultimate goal is to improve the lives of those suffering from hyperhidrosis.
We are based in Montreal, Quebec and our device is currently available in over 80 countries across 5 continents. We are always looking to expand into new markets and countries. Medical device regulations make this a long process, but we always welcome new challenges, and learning about each country’s requirements and licenses along the way.
We are also looking to make our device available in stores, pharmacies, and clinics. We have begun collaborating with local medical professionals and are hoping to make our product more accessible to all by making them available in more locations!
Hong Kong takes measures to addresses the issue of opening and maintaining bank accounts see more
Hong Kong Banks and HKMA announce Simple Bank Accounts
As part of the joint effort of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the banking industry in addressing the issue of bank account opening and maintenance, the three note-issuing banks in Hong Kong have, with the support of the HKMA, introduced a new tier of accounts, namely – “Simple Bank Accounts” (or SBAs) for corporate customers to further enhance customer experience in opening bank accounts in Hong Kong.
SBAs are in essence a new tier of accounts derived from traditional bank accounts which focus on provision of basic banking services such as deposits, withdrawals, local and cross-border fund transfers, etc. With narrower scope of services compared to traditional accounts, the risks involved in SBAs would be relatively lower to banks, and hence less extensive customer due diligence (CDD) measures are required to be carried out at account opening. For example, banks may require less detailed information and supporting documents from applicants. The streamlined account opening process of SBAs aims to offer more choices and improve customer experience, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-up companies and companies from outside Hong Kong which are seeking to establish a presence in Hong Kong, when they do not require the full range of banking services generally offered by traditional bank accounts, cannot readily furnish certain CDD information or documents required for traditional bank accounts, and yet do not require the full range of services at the initial stage of banking relationships. SBA customers who require more comprehensive banking services in the future may upgrade their accounts to traditional bank accounts by completing the necessary CDD process.
The HKMA attaches great importance to the promotion of financial inclusion in Hong Kong, including addressing the issue of opening bank accounts by the business community. The HKMA has set up a dedicated email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and hotline (+852-28781133) to handle any comment and feedback from the business sector and the community at large with regard to issue on bank account opening and maintenance. The business community are welcomed to send comments and specific cases to us, and all information received will be handled and followed up by our dedicated team.
For details, click here for an article by Deputy Chief Executive of the HKMA.
Chloe Warren-Garneau posted an articleCelebrate "Hong Kong Week" in June 2019 through a series of business and cultural events see more
Hong Kong Week - Connect and Excel
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Toronto) is pleased to launch "Hong Kong Week" in June 2019 in both Vancouver and Toronto. Its theme "Connect and Excel" embodies how Hong Kong’s connects globally, with Mainland China and the rest of Asia; and helps to propel both people and business to excellence. Hong Kong's strategic advantages relate not only to its physical connections, but also financial, legal, scientific and creative links as well as people-to-people network.
HKETO will stage and support a series of activities to celebrate Hong Kong's strengths, advantages and aspirational qualities of Asia's world city.
The 2019 HKCBA National Conference will be a highlight of the "Hong Kong Week" event to explore opportunities for Canadian businesses to connect and excel. Other activities include:
“Connect and Excel – Past and Present” photo exhibitions
“Connecting Hong Kong and Canada through Music” academic seminar
“Voices of the World” Concert by the Hong Kong Oratario Society
Hong Kong-themed drama
Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival
Details of the Hong Kong program can be viewed here. You are welcome to join the Hong Kong week to experience what makes Hong Kong a first-choice location in Asia for business and leisure!
In our first HKCBA Member Feature we share Vivian Ching's success as an active member of the HKCBA. see more
HKCBA Member Feature: Vivian Ching, Vancouver Section
In our first HKCBA Member Feature, we share Dr. Vivian Ching's success as an active member of the HKCBA Vancouver section. Read on to learn more about Vivian and how she has leveraged the HKCBA platform to build her business.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a full-time university professor for undergraduate and post-graduate level courses on organizational behaviour and business strategy in Vancouver, BC. Having worked and lived in New York City, Hong Kong and England; I have extensive work experience in business analyses and project management in a variety of Global Fortune 500 companies. I am also a professional artist who has held 11 exhibitions in Asia since 2012. Due to my unique blend of business and art experiences, I also partner with Fortune 500 industry leaders to conduct corporate training.
Your artwork has made a trip to space?
In 2014, I collaborated with Canon to become the first Canadian-Hong Kong artist to show artwork in space. My “Glasses” design was showcased 120,000 feet above the earth’s atmosphere via cutting edge aerial technology provided from Face in Space Ltd. The project gained extensive mainstream regional media recognition and significantly boosted my exposure in Hong Kong, China as well as Canada. In fact, I was recently interviewed on 2 popular television shows on Fairchild TV. City Chat【都市有約】was broadcasted last month, and Leisure Talk【大城小聚】will be coming today. In both shows, I chat more more about my unique career path.
So, what brought you to the Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (HKCBA)?
I moved back to Vancouver from Hong Kong in November 2017, and was looking for a way to meet people in town. As a former active member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, I realized that Hong Kong would be a great starting point to forge connections here in Canada. HKCBA popped up in my searches and joining as a member struck me as a great way to maintain my Hong Kong network in Canada, while having the opportunity to attend interesting events and getting to know local members.
And how has the HKCBA platform helped to increase your profile?
By connecting with the local Board of Directors with the goal of expanding my network in Canada, I was able to integrate my artwork as a part of the HKCBA Vancouver Annual Spring Dinner festivities. For the last 2 years, I have auctioned off my paintings during the event which helped me to gain exposure to a unique audience in the Hong Kong-Canada business community. This even resulted in 2 additional commissioned pieces, which are now prominently displayed in Vancouver-based law practice. I appreciate that I have been able to develop new clientele while maintaining Hong Kong connections, and HKCBA does a great job in linking these two strong communities together.
Finally, what’s up next for you?
I look forward to continuing to stay active with HKCBA and leveraging the platform to meet new people, network and connect with clients. I will also continue to look for opportunities locally for my artwork, as well as growing my academic, consulting and corporate training presence in Canada. For more information, visit www.vivianching.com.
Chloe Warren-Garneau posted an articleBLOG: Hong Kong in 12 hours - What to do when your conference ends at lunch and your flight leaves at midnightA few off the beaten track ideas for your free time in Hong Kong. see more
Hong Kong in 12 hours - What to do when your conference ends at lunch and your flight leaves at midnight
Written by Raymond Lowe, Hong Kong Fast Facts
After traveling halfway around the globe from Canada to Hong Kong, you won't want to miss the chance to get some sightseeing and cultural experiences packed into your trip before you return. But what to do if you have only a few hours before your flight leaves, and want to avoid the great-but-done-too-many-times activities like the Peak Tram?
Here is a half day plan that hits both some well-known highlights and some obscurities.
Before starting, make sure you checked out of your hotel and deposited your luggage with the Airport Express In Town Checking early in the morning, that way you'll have your whole afternoon and evening worry-free from your flight with your boarding pass already in hand!
Let's start in Wanchai which is were the Exhibition and Convention Centre is, as well as a lot of major hotels so you may well be staying in this district. As an HK regular you'll know that the sleazy "Suzie Wong" image of Wanchai is outdated but you might have missed out on some of the unusual spots in the area.
If you have kids back home then you mustn't miss this one! Even if you don't have kids there is plenty to see in this street market to keep anybody interested. It is properly called Tai Yue Street and leads south from Johnston Road just across the road from Southorn Stadium (named after Thomas Southorn, colonial secretary in 1934).
Use MTR Exit A3 of the Wanchai station to get to there if you are not walking from elsewhere in Wanchai. The street, more like an alleyway, is between the bakery and the Bonjour cosmetic store. The KFC and signs for Pizza Hut are other good landmarks to place yourself here.
Street market stalls line the road and the first few are a miscellany of plants, goldfish, electrical gadgets and more. But make your way a little more down the street and you'll find the toy shops. Overflowing with dolls, games, flashing toys that go "whirr" and nostalgic favourites you'll find plenty for the 5 to 10-year-olds here, and if an adult of your acquaintance likes plastic kits to make models of cars, jets and trains they may well enjoy this street as well! As it is coming up to Christmas there will also be plenty of tinsel and tree decorations on offer, though at other times of the year the displays are suitably seasonal.
Walk along this road all the way to the end, which will take you past a lot of street vendors selling basic ladies' and children's clothes as well as household essentials. There are plenty of cafes and hole-in-the-wall takeaways where you can grab a sandwich and some fruit or a lunch box of steaming hot rice. If you need lunch then grab something here as there is a good place to sit in a park and eat coming up soon!
The street market itself ends when you get to Cross Street but keep on going for another block to the main road which is Queen's Road East.
Looking across Queen's Road you'll see something very rare in Hong Kong, a historic building in a traditional Chinese style from more than 100 years ago. With whitewashed walls, green shutters and a tiled roof with molded gables it certainly stands out from the rest of the skyscrapers in the district. First built in 1912, this served as a post office for the district for 77 years and is now maintained as an environmental resource centre. Take a look inside to see the ranks of red painted post boxes! Don't forget to look up at the ceiling to see the wooden timbers that support the tiled roof. This was a style common at the time but is now hard to find anywhere. The Centre is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Tuesday but it is interesting to see the outside of the building even when it is closed.
After leaving walk east, that is with the post office on your right, one block along the main road to Stone Null Lane, and take this uphill until you reach the garden.
Stone Nullah Lane Garden
The garden is a great sitting out place, an oasis of trees and a quiet green space in the middle of the city. Although small the sensation of peace is probably encouraged by the Wan Chai Pak Tai Temple that is located beside the garden.
This is an old but well-maintained temple to Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the sea, who is also known as the Supreme Emperor of the Northern Heaven. It mixes the traditional with the modern in a typically pragmatic Hong Kong fashion. Ask the temple keeper to tell your fortune and he is often seen using an iPad tablet to consult the books of learning to interpret your future!
After insuring that Pak Tai is going to have your back with a few well placed Joss Sticks retrace your route down to Queen's Road and the Wanchai MTR station. It's time to cross the harbour!
On the MTR, take the Island line towards Kennedy Town but change trains after one stop at Admiralty. Take the Tsuen Wan line towards Tsuen Wan two stops to Jordan.
Alternatively, if you have plenty of time, catch a tram outside Southorn Stadium. Any tram going towards Western will do. Make sure to sit upstairs at the front for the best view! Get off outside World Wide House, go up the steps beside the Fanda Pharmacy store onto the walkway to the Central Piers. There you can catch the Star Ferry from Pier 8 across the harbour to Tsimshatsui (TST). Leave the ferry pier in TST, turn left and walk along to the bus stop. Any bus going north along Nathan road will do, try the 1A or the 271 and ride it until Jordan. It will take a lot longer but you do get to see many more sights than on the MTR!
At the junction of Nathan Road and Jordan Road turn left onto Jordan Road and walk four blocks to Temple Street. You'll see the giant red ornate Chinese style gateway on the right leading to the night market.
It should be time for dinner by now and the last of the big night markets of Hong Kong lets you combine shopping with dining and more. Walk along the road browsing all the way to the Tin Hau Temple after which the road is named. Try eating outside at one of the many restaurants along the way, the Spicy Crab is famous but there are plenty of other choices. Check out the nostalgic Mido Cafe just past the temple, make sure to sit upstairs for the full 1950's experience.
Once it is dark don't miss the chance for that iconic night shot of the market from the air. You don't need a drone, all you have to do is walk into the multi-storey public car park next to the temple and go up several floors. The view lines up so perfectly with the road that you can't help but wonder if the architect designed it just for this view!
If you'd like a second opinion on the fortune you got at the Pak Tai temple then don't miss the fortune tellers outside the car park building. And just across from them, if you are late enough, you'll find the Chinese singers in the streets doing everything from Chinese operatic standards to modern pieces. It is said that some HK singing stars started their careers right here!
When you have had your fill of shopping, crabs and singing make your way back to Nathan Road and take a taxi down to the Star Ferry Pier.
In the dark, the wide expanse of the promenade along the TST waterfront embodies everything you have seen in a picture postcard view of Hong Kong. This the view of Victoria Peak, instead of from the peak, which is the real emblem of Hong Kong. Walk along and enjoy the views.
Finally take the Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island. From the ferry pier you are just a 5 minute walk from the Airport Express terminal that will take you back to the airport in just 24 minutes. This drops you directly into the Departures area of Chek Lap Kok airport!
Have a great time in Hong Kong!
For more information on things to see and do in Hong Kong be sure to check out https://www.hkfastfacts.com/
This app takes you for a tour through Hong Kong's overlooked backstreet gems. see more
iDiscover Hong Kong
by Craig Lindsay
As with many frequent business travellers to Hong Kong, I usually spend my days cloistered in the glass towers of Central and Wanchai, with occasional forays during my downtime to Bowen Road for an early morning run, a walk up to the Peak or very infrequent shopping trips to Stanley Village or Mongkok. However, on a trip to Hong Kong this past December, I came across an amazing app called iDiscover Hong Kong which opened my eyes to a whole range of “off the beaten path” communities such as Lei Yue Mun, Sham Shui Po and Kennedy Town. The app was developed by Urban Discovery, a not-for-profit group focused on assisting cities throughout China and Southeast Asia to better manage their heritage assets.
Working with local residents, non-governmental organizations and universities in Hong Kong, the app’s creators have mapped various routes to discover some of Hong Kong’s overlooked backstreet gems. The recommended walks range from 1 .5 hours to 9 hours (for Kwun Tong), and are displayed on interactive, downloadable maps that identify various points of interests. Because locals have been involved in the selection, creation and introduction of destinations and events, they highlight many roads less travelled by mainstream tourist guides.
Visitors can explore, for instance, Kennedy Town, which for years was seen as a backwater of Hong Kong because it was so far away from Central and lacked subway access. Many visitors will only know of Kennedy Town as they have seen the name on a tram running through Central. Nowadays, K-Town (as it is now known) is well-known for its vibrant bars and restaurants, while its famous Sai Wan Estate apartment blocks have been spruced up with colorful playgrounds. Sai Wan Estate, developed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority and dating back to 1958, is the second oldest public housing estate in Hong Kong in existence, making it a must-visit for visitors who want to take a close-up look at metropolitan history.
To experience traditional fishing villages, pay a visit to Aberdeen on southwest Hong Kong Island. Sai Kung, meanwhile, is known for its bay and islands where you can escape the crowds and noise and relax in a seaside resort vibe, enjoy fresh seafood and go hiking in the mountains. Sai Kung District’s Hoi Pong Street is filled with numerous cafes and little souvenir shops with both vintage styles and unique contemporary art.
Using the free app, visitors can connect directly to locals, stop by their businesses and living quarters or even get involved in everyday activities. These family-run businesses and traditional craftsmen traditionally operate on the fringes of the city, and are normally invisible to tourists. With the app, users can stop by veteran artisans who specialize in sewing or bamboo steamers used for Chinese dumplings, scavengers and recyclers of wood, generations-old family run restaurants or traditional handicraft workshops. In Sai Ying Pun, for example, you can visit the shop of Yu Kwun Yick, a legendary family-run chili sauce brand since 1922.
Yes, Hong Kong is dynamic, modern and sophisticated. But underneath this bustling metropolis lies a beating heart waiting to be discovered by a new generation of visitors. The iDiscover app can be downloaded at https://i-discoverasia.com/neighbourhoods/hong-kong/ (where you’ll also find apps for several other destinations in Asia).