Hong Kong Culture

Business Culture

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Meetings

  • Do your best to be punctual, and be sure to give an apology for your tardiness if you are late.
  • In Hong Kong, people enter a meeting in order of importance, the highest ranking person arriving first and so on. The same goes for introductions.
  • Receiving Business Cards: Asian culture interprets the attention and respect you show someone's business card to be indicative of the respect you will show the individual in business. Either use both hands or the right hand alone to receive a business card. Do not put the card away immediately, but regard it carefully and place it before you on the table until everyone is seated. Do not put it in the back pocket of your pants as this could be taken as you sitting on their face. Similarly, do not fold the card or write on it unless directed to do so.
  • Presenting Business Cards: Either use both hands or the right hand alone when presenting a business card, making sure that the writing is facing the other person. Do not deal out your cards as if you were playing a game of cards as this risks being interpreted as rude.
  • Allow a few moments of social conversation to pass before mentioning business.
  • Avoid trying to fill in moments of periodic silence as such moments are usually meant for contemplation of what has been said.
  • Displaying signs of anger will cause you to lose face, and perhaps even the deal.
  • Avoid procrastinating or unnecessarily delaying the meeting.


Hong Kongers are very discerning in business; they know the efficiency of their economy, and are therefore only interested in judging the bottom line of a deal. Embellishments and padding of information is considered counterproductive and will be dismissed. They may occasionally reply in an ambiguous fashion, but principally only care to be provided with factual and concise information. You will gain their trust and respect by being straightforward and clear about your fundamental goals.


As they push to find the crux of proposals, Hong Kongers can come across as impatient in meetings. However, it it is rarely intended to come across this way. In fact, impatience and aggressiveness is viewed very negatively in Hong Kong. Though they are very fast paced when producing results and completing tasks, they still take a longer time to discuss everything in detail and re-hash points of previous meetings. Discussion is also drawn out by deferring to those of higher status in the hierarchy to make decisions. Therefore, their briskness is likely to be a result of their communication style, not a time crunch. Avoid pressuring your business partners. They will appreciate it if you remain calm, polite and committed, giving them time to think things through.


Considerations

  • Your Hong Kongese counterpart will likely use a Westernised first name followed by their last name.
  • Workplaces in Asia are definitively hierarchical based on age and position, and everyone has a distinct place and role within their company. Decisions are made from the top of the hierarchy but are generally reached quickly.
  • Avoid using high-pressure tactics to reach a business outcome. You may be outdone.
  • For the sake of saving face, a Hong Konger will seldom give a flat negative response to proposals made, even when they do not agree with it. Therefore, focus on hints of hesitation. Listen to what they say, but also pay close attention to what they don’t say and double check your understanding.
  • Hong Kongers prefer to take a long-term approach to business relationships and therefore often want to know a great deal about their partners in order to build the trust and loyalty needed to support business in the future. You may consider a lot of the questions asked to be unrelated to the point at hand, but try to be patient and provide answers for the sake of the business relationship. Introductions by a trusted third-party are almost a necessity to beginning any business relationship.
  • Pragmatism rules decision-making in Hong Kong which makes them flexible and adaptable negotiators. Expect them to apply rules that suit the realistic situation as opposed to the hypothetical.
  • Unlike in mainland China, gifts are not exchanged regularly in Hong Kong business culture.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2016), Hong Kong ranks 15th out of 176 countries, receiving a score of 77 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is relatively clean from corruption.
Hong Kong
  • Population
    7,167,403
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Cantonese [official] (88.9%)
    English [official] (4.3%)
    Mandarin [official] (1.9%)
    Other Chinese Dialects (3.1%)
    Other (1.9%)
    [2016 census]
  • Religions
    Chinese Folk Religion (49%)
    Buddhism (21.3%)
    Taosim (14.2%)
    Protestant Christianity (6.8%)
    Catholic Christianity (5%)
    Other (3.7%)
  • Ethnicities
    Chinese (92%)
    Filipino (2.5%)
    Indonesian (2.1%)
    Other (3.4%)
    [2016 census]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 68
    Individualism 25
    Masculinity 57
    Uncertainty Avoidance 29
    Long Term Orientation 61
    Indulgence 17
    What's this?
  • Australians with Chinese Ancestry
    1,213,903 [2016 census]
Hong Kongers in Australia
  • Population
    86,886
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Hong Kong.
  • Average Age
    39
  • Gender
    Male (47.7%)
    Female (52.3%)
  • Religion
    No Religion (44.8%)
    Catholic Christianity (14.9%)
    Buddhism (10.3%)
    Baptist Christianity (7.2%)
    Other (22.8%)
  • Ancestry
    Chinese (84.3%)
    English (5.4%)
    Australian (3%)
    Vietnamese (1.2%)
    Other (6.2%)
  • Languages
    Cantonese (82.8%)
    English (12.5%)
    Mandarin (1.8%)
    Vietnamese (1.2%)
    Other (1.7%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (85.4%)
    Not Well (13.9%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (51.5%)
    Victoria (24.3%)
    Queensland (11.6%)
    Western Australia (6.3%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (70.9%)
    2001-2006 (12.6%)
    2007-2011 (13.2%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country HK Flag