If you’re comparing HongKongers with mainlanders working in Hong Kong, you will often hear hiring managers say that mainlanders are much harder working than HongKongers. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Look around in Central at lunch time, and you will notice that there are many Putonghua speaking people everywhere. Many young professionals, most predominately bankers, come from mainland China.
The rise of China in the world
Ever since China opened itself to the outside world in the 1970’s, the Chinese have been catching up. Since the late 1990’s and especially the 2000’s, the surge of the Chinese middle class have created a class of young Chinese people who are educated overseas, predominately in Western countries such as the US, the UK, Western Europe and Australia. It is no longer the case that HongKongers enjoy a monopoly over education.
Hong Kong a strategic location for China
Before China was open to the world, Hong Kong was its only door to the outside world. In 1949, when the Chinese Communist Party won the civil war against the Kuomintang, the Communists were at the north of the Shenzhen River, Hong Kong’s doorsteps. Had the Communists invaded Hong Kong, Britain would have withdrawn from the colony. But Chairman Mao decided Hong Kong might be used as a strategic location for the new China.
A new China had been born in the 21st century
Until the 1970’s, Hong Kong was China’s door to the rest of the world. But since Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms had begun to bear fruit in the late 1990’s and into the 21st century, the rise of the Chinese economy had saw Hong Kong becoming increasingly dependent on China. Once reliant on the expertise of HongKongers, the mainland had nurtured its own talents over the years whilst Hong Kong had become stagnant.
The rise of young educated mainlanders
Fast forward to today. Mainland Chinese have become the largest group of international students in many Western countries, including the US. Gone were the days when most ethnic Chinese international students were from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The rise of the middle class had saw mainlanders sending their children overseas for education, and this has become a time when many of them are returning — and many to Hong Kong.
Many mainlanders are taking up professional roles in Hong Kong, especially in the banking industry. There is no doubt that a lot of hot money is coming from the mainland and it is only natural that mainlanders, especially Western educated ones, are seen as the best fit by hiring managers, who consider them bridges to the mainland market. It used to be the case that HongKongers touted themselves as creative and innovative, but where Hong Kong style education is going, I’m not sure if that is still the case.