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The British Influence in Hong Kong: How Much Remains?

As a product of 156 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong has only been independent since 1st July 1997. In recent years, Hong Kong has undergone a sort of identity crisis, leaving some yearning for the days of British control. How much the city has changed is up to debate, as Brits and foreigners alike still feel a dominant Western presence throughout. Many expats already living in Hong Kong considered the change to be more of a formality than transformative occurrence. This may be the reason why many expats find Western comfort in this Asian city, as the British influence is woven throughout the entire society.Population Demographics in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is comprised of a number of ethnic groups including Filipinos, Indonesians, and, of course, the Chinese. There are many expats and other British citizens that had been living in the city during colonial rule and still remain to this day. For this reason, much of the British culture that was once supreme has remained a vital and prominent aspect of life. Although there is an inevitable Asian taint to the remaining British influence, many expats report little real change in their lives or cultural experiences. Other individuals that are living and working in the region include the Vietnamese, Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Japanese and Korean.

Remaining Visual Vestiges

One of the more obvious signs of British influence is in the physical environment of Hong Kong. There are numerous streets named after British figures like Prince Edward Road and Wellington Street. There are several buildings that remain from the colonial period as well, standing as a living testament to the British rule that was once exercised over Hong Kong. Queen Victoria has also influenced a number of names in and around Hong Kong, such as Victoria Harbour, located between Kowloon and the mainland, and the Queen’s Pier.

Getting Around, Hong Kong Style

The transportation system in Hong Kong is one of the most highly developed of its kind in the world. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) provides one of the easiest routes of travel available to expats from the various neighborhoods in which they live. Many of these travel routes were inspired during colonial times and have continued to be developed to this day.

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The Politics and Education of Colonialism

The British judiciary and civil service ideology is still at large in Hong Kong as well. Giving Hong Kong an edge over other Chinese cities, the legislative council of 60 still meets. In addition, the city is governed by English Common Law, as opposed to Chinese civil law. This makes politics and the legislative process familiar, especially to British expats. With so many infrastructural similarities, Hong Kong’s features imply less of a culture shock for Westerners who choose to relocate here.

The British colonial presence has also resonated within the education system and the material being taught. The education system in Hong Kong is based upon the English system. However, higher education also incorporates an American style of education. With one of the best international education structures in the world, many expats find comfort in sending their children through a Western-inspired schooling system.

Money and the Markets

As one of the world’s leading financial centers, Hong Kong’s capitalist economy is foreign to many of its neighbors. The economy is highly industrialized in this city, offering many jobs to expats who choose to move here. Although the worldwide economy has taken a hit in more recent years, it is projected that Hong Kong will provide far more jobs than other countries in future years. Like Singapore, the financial sector in Hong Kong provides the majority of employment opportunities in Hong Kong, attracting further Western interest.

With the heavy British hand that still remains in Hong Kong, many expats feel as if it is a home away from home. In this real life “East meets West” environment, Asian influence is prominent, but not overwhelming. For this reason, many expats experience a minor culture shock upon relocating and adjust rather quickly. After over 150 years of British rule, Hong Kong is destined to remain a Western-friendly place, drawing expats from many major countries looking for economic opportunity.

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