Hong Kong Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Hong Kongers tend to be very hospitable and willing to help a stranger in need, perhaps more so than is common in the English-speaking West. Be receptive to their friendliness and try to reciprocate it.
  • Be humble if you receive a compliment or flattery from your Hong Konger counterpart. It is also good to reciprocate this, as it will help give you and your counterpart . However, it’s not uncommon for a Hong Konger to bashfully deny the compliment as a way to be humble.
  • Be careful when speaking of China as you may find some Hong Kongers to speak quite disparagingly of the mainland.
  • Show proper respect to those older than you. Hong Kongers place emphasis on deferring to elders.
  • Expect to be interrupted by Hong Kongers in conversation.
  • Make an effort to keep discussion harmonious and balanced.


Don'ts

  • Avoid giving criticism towards a Hong Konger or their family, business and country. This can lead to a loss of and may leave your Hong Konger counterpart feeling embarrassed.
  • Similarly, avoid publicly displaying signs of anger as this will cause you to lose face in a Hong Konger's eyes.
  • Do not presume a Hong Konger’s opinion regarding Hong Konger-Chinese relations. If you are unclear about their views, it’s a good idea to avoid referring to Hong Kong as ‘China’.
  • Don’t assume that Hong Kongers have the same behavioural customs are those in China. Despite perceived similarities, expectations and practices in behaviour and etiquette differ between the two cultures.
  • Never correct a Hong Konger’s identity regarding whether they think of themselves as Hong Konger or Chinese. Whether one identifies as Hong Konger or Chinese depends on the individual and someone correcting this choice may be considered to be insensitive. 
  • Try to abstain from interrupting or ‘filling in the silence’ during a conversation.

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