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Hong Kong Business Etiquette & Culture

Hong Kong etiquette, manners, and cultural information                     Hong Kong cultural insights for etiquette and manners 

Hong Kong Introduction

Hong Kong is predominately Chinese with a population of approximately 5.9 million as of 1992. There are two official languages, Chinese and English. Hong Kong has no official religion. Hong Kong operates under a capitalist form of government. . Hong Kong was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1898 at the culmination of the Opium War. It remained a British Crown Colony until 1997 when it was returned to China.

As part of China, Hong Kong is now an economic and cultural bridge between the capitalist West and the Communist East. There is little doubt that changes will take place within Hong Kong over the next few years. One change that is already apparent is a transition from an English speaking to Chinese speaking populous. Whether this will reduce the worldwide luster of Hong Kong is yet to be determined.

Hong Kong Fun Fact

In business dealing with Westerners, the Chinese often chose a nickname. Don’t be surprise if during your business dealing with the Chinese they ask to consult with a fengshui man (a geomacer). A fengshui man may be brought in determine good luck dates or the proper special arrangement for a building or office. This individual's opinion should be observed.



Geert Hofstede Analysis for
Hong Kong


The Geert Hofstede
analysis for Hong Kong is almost identical to that of other Asian countries. Where Hong Kong differs dramatically is in their Uncertainty Avoidance factors. Most Asian countries rank fairly high in this category, however in Hong Kong they tend to be greater risk takers. The highest-ranking factor is Long-term Orientation, which reflects their emphasis on relationships.

Hong Kong's Geert Hofstede analysis has Long-term Orientation (LTO) as the highest-ranking (96) factor, which is true for all Far East Asian cultures. This Dimension indicates a societies' time perspective and an attitude of persevering; that is, overcoming obstacles with time, if not with will and strength. (see Asian countries graph below)

Of note is Hong Kong's relatively low Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) Dimension ranking of only 29, compared to an average of 63 for the Far East Asian countries. This very low level of Uncertainty Avoidance is the fourth lowest in the World, with only Denmark (23), Jamaica (13), and Singapore (8) having lower scores for this Dimension.

The low Uncertainty Avoidance ranking indicates a society that not only tolerates uncertainty and a freedom of opinions, but uses this strength, in the case of Hong Kong, to be a place where many varying cultures and ideas can come together. Geert Hofstede describes people in a culture with the low UAI Dimension as, ". . . more phlegmatic and contemplative . ."

Hong Kong has an Individualism (IDV) ranking of 25, second highest for Far East Asian countries, behind Japan's 46 ranking, and compared to an average of 24. This may be attributed, in part, the long term British (IDV of 89) rule of Hong Kong and the influence of European culture, which has an average Individualism rank of 61. Hong Kong's Individualism ranking indicates a high level of emphasis on a Collectivist society as compared to one of Individualism.

The low Individualism ranking is manifest in a close and committed member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.

Hong Kong's Power Distance score is 68 compared to the other Far East Asian countries average of 60. This is indicative of inequality of power and wealth within the society. This condition is not necessarily subverted upon the population, but rather accepted by the society as their cultural heritage. More Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

Religion in Hong Kong


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

Hong Kong has a number of local regions, although many are based on the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (500BC).

Interview on Hong Kong
(written transcription)

Interview with Wai Chui

 

Hong Kong Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance   The color red is considered a lucky color in Hong Kong.

International Business Dress and Appearance   When dressing for a business meeting select a red tie to impress your host.

International Business Dress and Appearance   The color white is synonymous with death.

International Business Dress and Appearance   It is common in China to show one's surprise or dismay by sucking air in quickly and loudly through the lips and teeth. If you have been shown this gesture, it would be advisable to modify your request. Your host is obviously displeased.

 

Hong Kong Behavior 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The toast is an integral part of the culture in Hong Kong.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  All countries have a standard toast however each country has a different pronunciation for the word toast. Ganbei is the popular Chinese toast. It means dry glass or bottoms up.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Everyone is expected to drink a toast.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  The guest of honor makes the first toast.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Follow the lead of your host when dining.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not blow your nose at the table or in public.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not rub your chopstick together before dining. It implies that you have been given poor quality chopsticks that may have splinters.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  It is impolite to refuse to drink. Even if you do not drink, accept it and toast with your host.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Drinking helps to relax the host and is an important part of the relationship building phase in Chinese business culture.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gift giving is a very important part of Chinese culture. See international business gift giving section.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Bar hopping and karoke are standard means of entertainment. Be prepared to be taken out on the town almost every night during your stay in Hong Kong.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  At close of trip, have a dinner for your host as show of respect.

 

Hong Kong Communications 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  The handshake is fairly common in Hong Kong, however a slight bow will show a sign of respect.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  A round of applause may greet you during your visit. The Chinese like to applaud. You are expected to return the applause out of respect.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Because Hong Kong is so densely populated the Chinese tend to converse very closely together.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Silence is held in high regard in Hong Kong. Allow your host to contemplate without interruption.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Names are usually written in the following order the last name first, middle name second and the first name last.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Use titles with names whenever possible.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Appointments are recommended.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Punctuality is expected.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Use only black and white materials for presentations, as colors are very significant.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Patience is important. The Chinese do not make business decisions quickly.

 

 Hong Kong Resources

International Business Center Newsletter free subscription

Hong Kong Trade Development Council - Help with import and export trade for the Golden Triangle in China

Site Resource Page

International Career Center - Information on international careers and jobs

Fact Book on Hong Kong

Global Etiquette Guide: Hong Kong

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Page authored by: De'Edra Williams



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