By Masumi Mizuno, M&C South China Ltd.
It has been 9 and a half years since Hong Kong was restored to China. Today, Hong Kong maintains its capitalist regime within a Communist China, under China's policy of "One Nation, Two Systems". It is a unique environment. Since Hong Kong was formerly a British colony it has long possessed a mixture of both its own unique vitality and an atmosphere that comprises an indefinable mixture of East and West. Within this environment, people have accepted the presence of different cultures and customs, and while using the ideas of East or West according to the circumstances, have lived boldly and imaginatively. Even after the restoration of Hong Kong to China, not much has changed.
For example, in the business district of Central, in the evenings there is both the Lan Kwai Fong area which is overflowing with Westerners, while other parts nearby are packed with lines of Chinese style noodle and rice porridge shops. Moreover, go into any restaurant bar in Hong Kong and it is quite normal to see Chinese people and Westerners pouring each other drinks without any sort of self-consciousness.
This kind of Hong Kong-style versatility or flexibility can also be seen in the regular annual festivals that are held here. For example, the Christmas illuminations are a large-scale, ambitious affair which decorate the front of buildings, but once Christmas is over, they can also be quickly converted into the illuminations for the Chinese New Year. In some cases, an old man who had been dressing up as Santa Claus until a few days ago will change his Santa hat for a cowl and write the Chinese New Year greeting of "Gon hey fat choi (literally, "May you make lots of money!")" on his bag of presents and be transformed into the God of Happiness and Good Luck.
This attitude of willingness to accept different cultures extends to even to an openness Japanese food culture. For example, one of my favorites for lunch is a take out version of the Japanese instant ramen noodles "Demae Iccho". In Hong Kong, adding an egg or wonton Chinese dumplings to these high quality instant noodles is a popular dish in any lunch shop. In addition, other famous Japanese brands such as Ajisen ramen noodles, Yoshinoya beef and rice dishes, and fastfood style kaiten sushi are also very popular. Particularly at lunchtime and in the early evening, long queues always form outside the fast food style kaiten sushi shops. It is almost as if the preferred diet of this Japanese person is being helped out by the versatility or flexibility of the people of Hong Kong about accepting various different cultures.
At present, Hong Kong seems to be caught between both communism and capitalism, but it seems likely that it will go on to develop further, by the fusing of different cultures and economies.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.37 (January, 2007)