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Hong Kong (City) - Overview

Click here to go to this city guide's homepage

Under British rule, Hong Kong has enjoyed the status of being the gateway to business opportunities to China for almost a century, and its free trade economy was very dependent on international trade. This in turn attracted many foreigners to work and live in Hong Kong. Service industries, such as telecommunications, insurance, banking and tourism, were the main employers, and accounted for almost three-quarters of jobs for Hong Kong residents.

Since Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule in 1997, combined with the gradual opening up of Chinese cities in mainland china such as Shanghai, the situation has somewhat changed. Although the number of foreign companies with regional headquarters in Hong Kong may still be on the rise, this is not as fast as the number of foreign companies setting up offices in mainland China itself. Given mainland China's enormous potential for growth and business, Hong Kong's continued future as the commercial gateway to China took a slight beating. Nonetheless, the city's fundaments - excellent infrastructure, sophisticated banking and financial hub, expert workforce and good business working environment - remain an attractive magnet to expatriates.

Although Hong Kong has returned to Chinese rule, Hong Kong, also known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), is administered separately from the central government in China. The central Chinese government has guaranteed Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, except in the area of foreign and military policies.

One of the world's most densely populated cities, Hong Kong has a total population of 6.96 million. Almost half of Hong Kong's population is in the workforce – around 3.5 million. Aptly dubbed as Asia's World City, about 7% of the total population is foreigners (as of 2007). The top three nationalities are from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. For detailed statistics on Hong Kong's population and workforce, refer to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department website.

InvestHK, a government agency that promotes foreign investment in Hong Kong, has an interesting website that provides an overall summary of the international communities and the leading companies that are operating in Hong Kong. In addition, for more information on the international community in Hong Kong, you may wish to refer to your respective chamber of commerce. There are many foreign chamber of commerce with offices in Hong Kong, such as the American Chamber of Commerce (). Expatriates can find a wealth of business information for the South China region at this website. In the UK, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office based at 6 Grafton Street, London W1S 4EQ.

Despite Hong Kong's history as a British colony, Hong Kong's culture is deeply eastern with emphasis on relationships, family importance and the value of "face" being persistent in both business and social circles. Expatriates who live and work in this city will find the city fiercely competitive and refreshingly vibrant.

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