Developments in Hong Kong -- 10 Years After Reunification with China

A decade after reunification with China, perhaps now is a good time to take a look back. In the past 10 years, Hong Kong has survived the busting of a bubble, the 1997 Asia financial crisis, a US recession, SARS, and now finally on the road to recovery again (Here is a graph that shows how dramatic the flutuations were). To put it mildly, it was an eventful decade. It also highlights the adaptability of the Hong Kong people. I was in the city this month, and here are 12 visible developments in HK.

The emphasis of the list are things that are observable by everyday local Hong Kong residents. This list is not ordered in any particular way. There're 12 items here because that's how many I found. So what you're seeing is completely raw and without any filtering on my part. You will see from the smallest streetside developments to broader social change. So without further delay:

  1. Octopus Card

    Launched in 1997, the Octopus Card is a rechargeable contactless smart card that is accepted at all major transportations, convience stores, vending machines, and fastfood chains. It is used by 95% of the local population. You can even link your bank account to your Octopus Card for automatic recharge. This essentially make Hong Kong the closest cashless society in the world today. It is entirely possible to live off your Octopus Card.

    Based on my highly non-scientific oberservation, the average Octopus Card maintains a balance of rougly 70-80HKD (10USD). I also estimate that the Octopus Card has speedup lines in bus stops by 2x.

  2. Environmental Awareness
  3. It is well known that pollution in Hong Kong has gotten worse (if you're reading the presentation, pages 18, 35, and 47 are particularly chilling). The good news is that there has been increase in environment and conservation awareness. Hong Kong has also converted all taxis and many mini-buses to liquefied petroleum gas (propane).

  4. Herbal Tea
  5. I first discovered these in Japan, and realized the potential of this product. In fact, Hong Kong has even more veriety of tea than in Japan. There're all kinds of tea that is mixed with different traditional Chinese herbs.

    The last picture is from Macao. It shows that this product is already expanding.

  6. HKID
  7. The new Hong Kong Identity Card is state of the art. The most impressive aspect is that it allows quicker entry to Macao and mainland China. You insert the HKID card into a machine at the terminal, and a gate would open to let you enter. The whole process is completely self-served and takes about 10 seconds.

  8. MTR
  9. MTR is a partly government owned, pulic subway company in Hong Kong (which also has over 50% ownership of the company that operates Octopus Card). Other than more lines were added to MTR in the past 10 years, two visible changes are 1) safety glass that separates the track from the platform, and 2) TV screens with advertisements on the track replacing bill-boards.

  10. Buses
  11. All buses are now air conditioned with TV screens (advertisements included).

  12. International Finance Centre
  13. IFC is the latest tallest building in Hong Kong, but like many things in Hong Kong this is just temperary. The new Union Square will be the next tallest in 2010.

  14. Moving Street Markets Off the Street
  15. The government has also moved a lot of street markets and food cart vendors off the streets into real shops. People still refer to them as "Street Markets" though.

  16. Mobile Phones
  17. Hong Kong is a place with more mobile phones than people. Reason is that a lot of people have more than one cellphone, either to get the latest model or one for going to mainland China. You can also send SMS in Chinese, which is actually not too hard to do.

  18. Eletronic Coupon Machines
  19. I found these coupon machines in a grocery store. You can swipe your club card and it will print out today's coupons for you.

  20. Street Light Machines
  21. All street lights are converted into touch based machines instead of the old mechanical button.

  22. Integration with Mainland China
  23. Hong Kong now regularly broadcast TV programs in mandarin. Everyday hundreds of people from mainland China come to Hong Kong either on tour or on business. Likewise, many people in Hong Kong travel to China each day. There's also regular ferry going between Hong Kong and many other cities in southern China. It's clear that integration is happening at many levels.


1 comment:

  1. Hey next time your in Hong Kong, can you check on a company based there named and see if they've taken our money and closed shop. This is their address.

    Hong Kong HO 999077 CN


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