Time flies, indeed. Hong Kong has been handed over back to China from the Britain for 20 years. Apart from all the political conflicts between mainland China and Hong Kong, from my perspective, Hong Kong is one of the places preserved the most traditional Chinese culture.
If you ever been to Beijing or Shanghai, you will notice these cities are no different from New York and London. Surprisingly, they might look more modern than you imagined. Not only the outlook of the city but also people who are living in those cities, certain Chinese seems to speed up modernising themselves, whereas forgetting the traditions and the past. Hongkongers are exceptions.
Hongkongers stick on most of the Chinese traditions, Dragon or Lion dancing from time to time; the traditional wedding dress (Qun Kwa) for the bride on the wedding day which you rarely see in the mainland China nowadays; not to mention the traditional writing Chinese characters. Though certain of those traditions for me looks pretty backwards, for example, people from the walled villages will light a lantern in their shrine if they are having a baby boy instead of a baby girl.
Whilst at the same time, Hong Kong is one of the most modern cities in the world as well. No doubt, 99 years under British governed, Britain has a huge impact in Hong Kong, Hong Kong became one of the world’s leading global financial centres, the freest economy in the world with the free trade port. Moreover, though London Underground has the historical record for more than 150 years, the Oyster card is the ‘elementary version’ of Hong Kong’s Octopus card, as you can live in Hong Kong with this card only, no cash needed.
Living and growing up in the city like Hong Kong, what will be Hongkongers be?
Most of Hongkongers I know are not physically mix-races, but as a Hongkonger, their lives and behaviours are literally combined with the East and the West. They talk to each other in Cantonese, text each other in English; moreover, a lot of Hongkongers can speak perfect Mandarin as well.
Legally, they can have both their Chinese name and English name on their identity cards and passports. All the places in Hong Kong have been translated into proper English, vice versa. No matter where you are from, either mainland China or foreign countries, as soon as you understand one of the languages, you will able to live in this city.
Hongkongers are a group of people believe that only hard working will bring you the fortune and wealth, but at the same time, from the billionaires to the working class, Feng Shui still plays a big part in their lives.
I don’t think Hong Kong will ever be the same with the other cities in mainland China. Not because Hongkongers are refusing to be part of it, the truth is they will always different from the others.
Take my hometown for an example, it was the colony of Germany before the First World War and only last no more than 25 years. Not to mention those things we can see, a lot of locals never thought about that our dialect actually contained many German terms that the rest of the China won’t understand.
It is said, you can remember a word forever by copying it for 16 times; to have a good habit by doing the same thing for 7 days. Ninety-nine years for Hong Kong is not a short period of time, Hongkongers formed their own way to survive on the island, still searching for the new path for the future.
No other places in the world are able to give Hong Kong a signal or direction, Hong Kong will be forever special.