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Hong Kong Handover Anniversary Tuesday, 30 June, 1998, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Hong Kong: a cultural evolution
Anthony Chan graphic
For Anthony Chan, the problems in Hong Kong stem from financial crisis, not the Chinese takeover. In fact, he says the province's shift towards a more Chinese culture is natural. At 37, Mr Chan is a partner at a Hong Kong law firm where he concentrates on banking and finance. Born in Malaysia, he emigrated to Hong Kong as a child with his family. He moved to London for several years before returning to Hong Kong in 1992.

From a work perspective, there has been hardly any difference from the situation immediately before the hand over on July 1 1997. Life goes on. Even the weather remains rather dreary. One will no doubt recall that the British contingent attending the British side of the handover ceremony sat in the rain most of the time.

To the extent the system remains the same or substantially unchanged, it has to be said that the British legacy with respect to many fundamental and infrastructure matters remains intact. Instead of Chris Patten looking somewhat strained, we now have Tung Chee-hwa looking rather the same way, and instead of the Union Jack, we have the Chinese flag.

Other than more of an emphasis now on the use of the Chinese language, the key differences which are going to affect the daily lives of the masses have yet to show.

I came to Hong Kong with an open mind but no long-term plans. I thought I would give myself two years to see what I could achieve here and then decide whether I should stay longer in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was a better place to work and live than what I expected. It offered the kind of career opportunities lacking in the UK at that time. It still remains a great place to meet new friends and build up business contacts.

Fortunately my career path here has been fairly smooth. There is a Chinese saying in Hong Kong that there is always gold in the streets - it just depends on whether one has the ability to pick it up. In my profession, perhaps there is no longer gold in the streets of Hong Kong. I did however pick up a wife along the way.

I think Hong Kong is a place which one has to grow to like. It is really the people that makes the place what it is, and it is my wife, who is local, my old and new HK friends, and other relatives and business contacts and associates that now make me really wish to stay here permanently.

For those of Chinese origin who work and raise a family here, speak the lingo, and whose livelihood is all tied up with Hong Kong or the mainland, it is difficult not to see themselves as Chinese living in part of China. This is inevitable. Compared to many jurisdictions in Asia, the government does look after its subjects with reasonable competence.

I guess everyone aspires to working and living in an environment which has a recognised, stable system of law and order, a strong economy and a respected political system. If such factors are kept under control by the governing authorities, there is no reason to believe that any hopes for a bright future for people in my position will be dashed.

For the immediate future, of course people in Hong Kong are worried about their financial well-being. Hong Kong has not seen a recession like this for a long time, if ever. But like a lot of my friends, I am very much an optimist.

I will just have to poise myself in such a way as to sail through the recession with the belief that Hong Kong with its inherently strong financial attributes will recover quicker than other Asian jurisdictions affected by the current economic malaise.

Links to more Hong Kong Handover Anniversary stories are at the foot of the page.

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