Yesterday for Hong Kong it was 1st of July a.k.a. 香港特別行政區成立紀念日 – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day. The holiday commemorates the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region connected with annual protest made by Hongkongers against government. This year: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-28/hong-kong-protests-to-underscore-leung-s-record-low-appeal.html . And to ‘celebrate’ that day I’ve decided to clear the differences between Hongkongers and Mainland Chinese. It’s not only problem of Hong Kong people, even Taiwanese people have to deal with dialogs like that:
Our friend: I’m (name), I’m from Taiwan.
His American classmate: So you’re Chinese.
Friend: No, I’m Taiwanese.
Of course from racial point of view 90% of them come from Han Chinese (漢族), it’s even majority in Singapore, not to mention it’s around 1/5 of all the people in the world. They share also a cultural background but there are many differences between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China.
My post is not to talk bad about Mainlanders, I believe that what we see in media, very often in Hong Kong are just those rednecks, who don’t know how to behave at all, don’t respect anything and anyone – I met many people from both HK and China and all of them are smart, well behaved, really polite, they don’t poop on the street or elevators, they don’t spit on the ground, they don’t argue or yell at anyone – those are people punished because some of the people from their country done really stupid or disgusting things. My post is to show foreign readers that HK and China are not the same places, just like from racial point of view I’m Slavic just like Czech, Belarus or Russian people but we are not the same, we speak different languages, live in different places, we have SIMILAR but not the same culture. Same with Hong Kong and China.
- Passport: first and main difference – Hongkongers hold their own passport with different traveling rules from Mainland China. HK people are allowed to go to many places on the earth with 30/90 or more days without having a visa and most of that countries can do the same in Hong Kong. On the other hand to go to China you probably need to apply for visa – there are few exceptions but most of incoming people need to hold visa. I’m an European Union country citizen, my husband can entry my country for 90 days without visa, it’s the same for me or any other EU person going to Hong Kong, but to get to China I had to apply for a tourist visa valid for 30 days stay.
- Hongkonger is a foreigner for Mainland China: they cannot use their driving license, they need to have special cards to get there, they have to stay in the hotels that has right to keep foreigners. In Shanghai last year we both had to go to closest police station to tell them why and what time we want to spend there, even thought he has a card to entry China. Hongkongers hold their own ID cards, just like passports.
- Language: as I said in one of previous posts, Hong Kong has it’s own official language which is Cantonese, in China they see Cantonese only as a dialect, they use Beijing based Mandarin for any document. HK documents are always in two languages: written with traditional signs Cantonese and British English, but since 1997 more and more public signs have three languages with Mandarin. Funny fact – at the beggining the order of languages were Cantonese, English, Mandarin, nowadays when more and more Mainlanders come to Hong Kong order changed to Cantonese, Mandarin, English.
- Currency: Hong Kong is using Hong Kong dollars which is now 0.13 usd, while China uses Renminbi also known as Yuan which is 0.16 usd. Yuan cannot be officialy used in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. HKD includes: 10, 20, 50 cents, 1 dollar, 2 dollars (beautiful in my opinion), 5 dollar in coins, 10 dollar in coins and bill – and I can be happy to present you old, but still valid 10 HKD before it went from green to blue, banknotes include also 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 HKD. The only person you can see on yuan is Mao, on the other hand Jiao have ethnic minorities of China on it and they are really nice in my opinion but not very popular in use. You can convert it like that – 1 Jiao = 0.1 Yuan, 5 – 0.5 Yuan, 10 Jiao – 1 Yuan.
- Marrying a Hongkonger: that’s my favourite and very ironic part – for me being married to a Hongkonger gives me a temporaty Hong Kong ID right away, after few years I can change it to normal one, for a Mainlander married to Hongkonger that used to be I think 7 or 5 years, now our friend who is marrying a girl from China says they need to wait ‘only 3 years’ until she can get her Hong Kong ID.
- Index of Economic Freedom: since 1995 Hong Kong is holding it’s 1st place in ranking of economic freedom – business, trade, monetary, fiscal, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption. China recently jumped from 140th to 136th.
- Government: ‘One country, two systems’ – Hong Kong government is led by the Chief Executive, head of the SAR, who nominates its principal officials for appointment by the Chinese Central People’s Government, all power within the government of the People’s Republic of China is divided among several bodies: the political branch, the Communist Party of China, the State Council, the National People’s Congress, the Supreme People’s Court and People’s Liberation Army – Central Military Commission. The two SARs are responsible for their domestic affairs including, but not limited to, the judiciary and courts of last resort, immigration and customs, public finance, currencies and extradition. Diplomatic relations and national defense of the two SARs however, is the responsibility of the Central People’s Government in Beijing.
- Olympic games: you might miss a tiny team on the olympic games coming from Hong Kong! Yes, that’s right – they have few people going there, last year 李慧詩 won a bronze medal on in cycling. Cannot compare for dozens that Mainland Chinese people brought back with them, but still – it’s a small success and another thing showing that these two are not the same.
There are many other differences, not only connected to finance or law – those two places share their ethnic and cultural backgroud but history of both made them not being able to along with each other. My small wish is Hong Kong stays as it was, so is China, bring and show off the good people, stop getting too much into people’s life and freedom they cherrish. Beautiful culture is being killed by being greedy, sometimes being really stupid. I love Hong Kong and I love China, they are not the same but both of them can be really wonderful.