Are Hong Kong people rude

Living and working in Hong Kong: what to watch out for

| by Anne-Katrin Schwanitz | Intercultural

For many people, Hong Kong is a place of longing similar to the USA. Unfortunately, getting a job in Hong Kong is almost as difficult as getting a green card for the United States of America. The former British colony officially belongs to China, but is sovereign in many areas - especially in the economy. For this and a number of other reasons, life in Hong Kong cannot be compared one to one with the Chinese People's Republic. Those who are not fortunate enough to be posted to Hong Kong by an employer have to look for a job themselves. The following job portals and newspapers offer job offers also in English:

In order to get a job in the metropolis, one has to be able to prove qualifications that are rarely or not at all on the Hong Kong labor market. Since many companies based in Hong Kong want to expand their contacts with Germany and Western Europe, foreign workers are being recruited in a targeted manner. If you want a chance to audition for such a position, you should not only speak perfect English (one of the three official languages; proof of the following tests: TOEFL, IELTS, TSL), but ideally also Mandarin and a little Cantonese.

Personal application on site is advisable

Anyone who actively applies in Hong Kong should be there if possible so that they can be quickly available for interviews. If a candidate is shortlisted, the recruiters usually first conduct a telephone interview, in which applicants often do not get the basic questions answered (salary, deadline, type of contract, allowances, etc.). These important details are almost always only clarified in a personal conversation. An invitation to an interview is usually only received after passing the recruitment tests, which, by the way, are commonplace in Hong Kong.

According to the experience of Germans in Hong Kong, interviewing at local companies is pretty tough by European standards. It is supposed to be reminiscent of a regular struggle in which all parties struggle for every concession. It also happens that the skills of the applicants are devalued, for example to lower their salaries.

Without a minimum income, nothing works in Hong Kong

Once you have passed the hurdle and received a job offer, everything is by no means in the towel. The next step is to apply for a work permit. For this purpose, foreigners who work in Hong Kong have to prove, among other things, that they earn a monthly salary of at least HK $ 20,000 (around EUR 1,900) and the company in turn has to plausibly demonstrate that it could not or could not find any local skilled worker for the advertised position that the necessary qualifications are not yet available in the domestic market. Foreigners who meet all the requirements will eventually receive the Hong Kong ID card with which they can live and work in the Chinese metropolis.

At the latest when they have arrived in business life, foreign employees should also deal with the customs of local business life. And that differs in parts considerably from the European or German. Even if the British had colonial rule over Hong Kong for 155 years, they have left far fewer cultural traces than this long period of time suggests. Since the roots of most of the residents are Chinese, behavior in everyday life as well as in the office is very much based on that of the Chinese. The famous Chinese courtesy is written accordingly in large letters. This important quality is a sign of respect, without which nothing works in interpersonal interaction. Foreigners should therefore always arrive on time for a business meeting and not keep the person inviting them waiting. As in the German-speaking countries, the salutation also requires the surname to be mentioned first (e.g. Mr Wong). But be careful: on business cards, the surname comes first before the first name.

Pay attention to looks and facial expressions

Discussions with business partners from Hong Kong should of course take place on an equal footing, but fixing the patient for too long and gazing into the eyes for too long is considered impolite and, in the worst case, even hostile. Business people should therefore look down at an early stage. When it comes to clothing, local business partners like it classically conservative. For men, this means that their wardrobe consists primarily of dark suits as well as shirts and ties. Women can't go wrong with a suit or blazer. Basically, it's better to be a little overdressed than too casual. It is permitted and even advantageous to display expensive accessories such as watches or jewelry.

Social or business meetings rarely take place in private apartments, but primarily in restaurants. Usually the inviting party also pays for the food. This is usually traditional Chinese, which means that many (up to 12) courses are served. It is polite that as a guest you try at least a little bit of each course. You should not completely empty your plate or glass while eating, as this signals to the sitters that the meeting will soon be over.

No need for haste

Hustle and bustle and impatience are not welcome in a social context, as is insisting on agreed deadlines. Negotiations do not seem very effective, especially to Western Europeans, because the Chinese-influenced negotiation strategy does not provide for getting straight to the point. The rejection of a proposal is almost never rigorous - what does not appeal is made clear in another way. For example, an item that is considered to be done is on the agenda again on the following day. By then at the latest, foreign business partners should have understood that there was still no agreement on this matter.

Little Hong Kong business etiquette:

  • Party favorsshould never be unpacked in the presence of the giver, as this behavior suggests great curiosity and impatience.
  • Small talk is part of every meeting, but it should harmless topics (by no means political).
  • For business meetings with Chinese groups, the highest ranking participants greeted first become. A light handshake is common when greeting, but if you bend slightly, you won't do anything wrong.
  • Business clothing should be conservative and of muted colors. Shoes should never be open and / or too high (for women). During leisure time, short skirts and pants are allowed - nude bathing in public places such as the beach or the park is absolutely taboo.
  • As Tip5 to 10 percent of the invoice amount is usual in restaurants. The money can be deposited on the table or tray.
  • Plate and glassEmptying it completely is a sign of wanting to end the meeting quickly. If you want to avoid a faux pas, you always leave a remainder.

Anne-Katrin Schwanitz

Anne-Katrin Schwanitz writes on Expat News about intercultural topics and about labor, tax and social security aspects of business trips and assignments abroad as well as about trends in digital nomadism and emigration.