Day 13: Hong Kong

Day 1 is here. The next two days were all about getting acclimated.

Days 2 & 3 are here. These days were pretty much spent as a tourist in Shanghai.

Days 4 & 5 are here. Lots of meetings with companies and other experts on Chinese business development.

Days 6 is here. Our journey to Hangzhou.

Days 7 & 8 are here. Hangzhou, Alibaba.com & Harsco Metal Company & travel to Guangzhou.

Days 9 & 10 are here. Guangzhou.

Days 11 & 12 are here. Guangzhou to Hong Kong.

Day 13 (January 14)

While our hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel, was dated and the rooms microscopic, Hong Kong was terrific. Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 but remains a relatively autonomous Special Administrative Region through at least 2047.

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We started our day walking through Kowloon Park  to take the MTR  (mass transit railway)  to the Central station for our meeting at Invest HK.

Our host was Simon Galpin, the Director General of Investment Promotion, who shared with us the myriad reasons why a company should locate at least its headquarters to Hong Kong (versus for example Shanghai or Singapore). Their website outlines the reasons shared with us and many more. However, they include the legal system (modeled on British Common Law), the convertibility of the currency, the location in Asia, the low tax rate, and the informational freedoms. More than 1100 US companies have an office in Hong Kong. Approximately 60,000 US citizens call Hong Kong home. It’s very easy to get a Visa to work in Hong Kong and the long term British influence made Hong Kong the most familiar of the cities we visited.

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From here we moved on to Cyberport (official site) where their COO Mark Clift gave us a tour and explained their history and operations. I fell in love with Cyberport (wiki version) as a model for economic development. It’s run by government but is a true partnership between government, private industry and higher education. It was built to support the IT and telecom industries and has both anchor tenants (e.g. Microsoft), core facilities and incubator companies. The $2 billion US paid for itself (and then some) through the management of the 5-star Meridien Hotel and sale of the on-site condominiums. So far their incubator has a 90%+ success rate. Many of us expressed interest in moving to Hong Kong after seeing these facilities.

From here we went to lunch at a cooking school Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre (HITDC) at the Vocational Training Council (vocational training council) with a member’s only English speaking dining society. The students are taught not only how to cook various regional cuisines but also how to serve and communicate with English speaking customers.

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The food was terrific. I tried Ostrich for the first time and it was outstanding. Like so many of the businesss we toured during this trip, the corporate Core Values (Integrity, Client-Focused, Excellence, Entrepreneurship, Partnerships) and Mission (To help learners succeed -by providing a valued choice for achieving lifelong learning and gainful employment; to help industries thrive- by providing valued supports for promoting manpower development) were on prominent display.

We returned to Cyberport to visit a satellite campus of Hong Kong University where their executive education and executive MBA classes are hosted. These programs were launched in just April of 2009 and are “the most expensive in Asia” at $1Million HKD over the 3 year program. We heard a faculty presentation by Kevin Zhou about the Role of Guanxi versus Market Orientation in Chinese Business Success. Interestingly, as a Chinese company grew and aged, the impact of guanxi on company success decreased.

We also toured the main campus of HKU where their motto, Sapientia et Virtus or wisdom and virtue was everywhere. Our business student tour guides were from Eastern Europe and Africa. We spent a very long time at the lily pond with the Sun Yat-Sen statue (see e.g. this link).

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We ended our day at Gateway Cuisine  feasting on a seafood dinner. We walked through the markets at Lei Yue Mun  looking at the myriad live fish and seafood. Our tour guide had pre-ordered for us so we did not select our own fish to be prepared but all of the restaurants here allow you to bring your own seafood to be cooked. This was an outstanding meal although I was somewhat relieved that it would be our last group meal and therefore the last meal where my food would be staring at me.

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Hong Kong harbor at night was one of the most majestically beautiful places I have ever seen.

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Posted in Bard Center, Business School, Entrepreneurship, Travel