Doing Business in Hong Kong




The Business Climate in Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is technically part of China, its residents largely see themselves as separate. Hong Kong is one of the wealthiest areas of China and its most developed, so there are loads of business opportunities. Hong Kong is sometimes seen as the link between China's mainland and the rest of the world.


Cultural Considerations

When conducting business in Hong Kong, relationships are highly important. Because of this, it is usually best to be introduced to potential business contacts by an intermediary, particularly someone of high social status. Businesses are not likely to deal with you if they have no idea who you are. Business cards are always exchanged, and you should present and receive them using both hands. Always carry plenty of cards with you, as you will go through them quickly.

When scheduling meetings, try to avoid late December, Chinese New Year (typically January or February), and August. These are popular vacation times, so you are unlikely to be able to schedule a meeting. Also, it can sometimes be seen as disrespectful of local culture to be unaware of Chinese New Year.

Those in Hong Kong place high importance on punctuality, so it is crucial to always arrive at meetings on time or early. If you absolutely must be late, give your host as much advance notice as you possibly can. Traffic can often be congested, so be sure to allow for plenty of travel time between appointments when planning your itinerary. It is better to arrive early than late.

When receiving correspondence, respond quickly, even if it is just to confirm that you have received the message and will be giving a more thorough response later. Business moves at a very fast pace in Hong Kong, so you run the risk of losing business if you take too long to respond.

As with many other Asian cultures, meals are very important in Hong Kong, so you should expect to have many business meetings over lunch or dinner. When sitting, aim to alternate between Australians and those from Hong Kong. Meals are critical to building strong and lasting relationships between business associates in Hong Kong.

It is common in Hong Kong for people to use both a Chinese name and an English name. If the Chinese name is used, the surname comes first. When using an English name, the surname comes last. Keep this in mind when referring to someone as Mr or Ms.

The Chinese are highly concerned with losing face. When offering criticism, never do it in public, as this could embarrass the person in front of others. Try instead to deal with these matters in private. If the person is of high social standing, you may be better off offering criticism through a respected intermediary, as the concept of face can often be difficult for outsiders to navigate.


Visiting Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, many larger businesses, especially international ones, are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Many Chinese businesses stay open later and open on Saturdays as well. Most businesses close for an hour for lunch. Shops tend to keep extended hours, staying open until 10:00 p.m. every day. Keep in mind that most businesses close for Chinese New Year. Hong Kong is two hours behind Australia's eastern time zone and does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

The local currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar. ATMs and currency exchange shops are common, so it is relatively easy to access cash when you need it.

Hong Kong's climate varies by the seasons and is monsoonal. In summer, temperatures average above 30 degrees. The weather during this time is humid and rain is common, so it is a good idea to carry an umbrella. In winter, temperatures drop to around 15 degrees, and the weather is drier. Typhoons are common during the summer months and can be unpredictable. During high winds, it is best to stay indoors and away from the windows until the wind subsides. Local television channels typically provide frequent weather updates in typhoon conditions.

Hong Kong's electricity is 220 volts, 50Hz. You will usually see square three-pin plugs.


Visa Requirements

For Australians, a visa is not typically required if your stay will last fewer than three months. If you will be staying longer, you must obtain a visa before arriving in Hong Kong. You will not be able to change your visa status after you arrive.


Travel Guide

Hong Kong's international airport is called Chek Lap Kok. From the airport, you can get into the city via the Airport Express train, which runs every 10 minutes. The trip takes less than half an hour. Taxis are available as well, but due to traffic, the journey usually takes closer to an hour and is more expensive than the train.

Once in the city, public transport is your best option. There is an extensive network or rail, bus and ferry lines, all of which are relatively inexpensive. Most signage is displayed in both Chinese and English, making it easy to find your way around. Taxis are readily available as well, and many of the drivers understand at least some English.

About 10 percent is a standard tip for services. However, some hotels and restaurants, but not all, will add a 10-percent service charge to your bill. In this case, tipping is not necessary.

Hong Kong has some of the best hotels in the world from both local brands and large international chains. Because there is so much competition in the area, the quality is consistently high.

Hong Kong has two major restaurant districts. In So Ho you can find a wide variety of international cuisine, and in Wanchai you'll find a more casual atmosphere with many bars and restaurants where you can have a light bite.


Tourist Attractions

Hong Kong is the most popular tourist destination in Asia, so there is a tourist attraction to suit virtually every taste and interest. Ranging from natural wonders to historic buildings to museums, Hong Kong offers a bit of everything.