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Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong comparison

 
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ninjamon



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:46 pm    Post subject: Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong comparison Reply with quote

Hi!

I have taught in the Mainland for 3 years and in Taiwan for 1. I was wondering whether other people here have done the same and whether they would be able to make cultural and material comparisons between the two such as people's attitudes, quality of housing, cost of living and so on.

Cheers for any advice!
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Horizontal Hero



Joined: 26 Mar 2004
Posts: 2492
Location: The civilised little bit of China.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I have lived and worked in all three - Taiwan for 2.3 yrs, mainland for 3 yrs, and now in HK over 3 years. Of course all three places have varied conditions according to where you live. In TW I lived in Chaiyi, a smallish town. The housing I got was quite good, the town clean, and the people really nice. I earned a decent salary too, and paid little for housing - about 10% of my income. TWese people have a kind of gentle innocence about them. I liked them a lot. Mainland China was much more of a test, althpough it is improving in many ways. Housing is cheap or provided in most ESL jobs. Most places are dirty though, and standards can be very poor in building quality, and any kind of workmanship anywhere. You get people staring at you a lot in less developed areas. Nationalism can be really in your face, and there is definitely an ugly side to this (but I won't go into it here). Hong Kong can be stressful, something I didn't count on before I came here. The pace of life is really fast. Housing is usually a little shoebox in the sky, and way overpriced. An alternative is a village house in the New Territories, if you don't mind commute (depending on where you are going). HK is very organised, transport really good, pay is much higher for NET positions, international schools and universities. But strangely, many NETs leave after one contract. I suspect isolation and a stressful working environment are the main causes. It really isn't much fun working here for most of us (I'm a NET).
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ninjamon



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi - thanks for your reply. I have some more q's if you don't mind....

Is there much of a cost of living difference between Taiwan and Hong Kong? If the cost of living is roughly the same then NET salaries (inc housing) look extremely generous....

This is a bit cheeky but I was wondering whether you could comment more on the NET scheme on the other thread I set up about NET as a long term proposition? I am hoping to apply for the scheme and was wondering whether you could comment more about that?

BTW I know what you mean about the racism in the Mainland, it is an extremely ugly side to the culture. Is there any equivalent in Hong Kong?
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Kaloi



Joined: 01 Aug 2007
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ninjamon wrote:
Racism... in Hong Kong?


Of course there is.... 鬼佬 Twisted Evil

I have never witnessed it in a professional setting, but its definitely present - most notably in the constant stares you get from old people (which just made m'feel pretty).
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ninjamon



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cheers for letting me know. i was wondering if it was on the mainland scale, particularly the anti-japanese racism. do people in hong kong have violent demos where they burn the japanese flags and smash up (chinese owned) japanese restaurants and scream abuse at the chinese waitresses inside? i am not really bothered by gwai lo or stereotyping. how do hong kong people react to foreigners learning cantonese? encouraging or laugh in your face?
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Horizontal Hero



Joined: 26 Mar 2004
Posts: 2492
Location: The civilised little bit of China.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most HKers are a bit standoffish in public places. They are more reserved than mainlanders. I find service people to be kind and friendly, and many go out of their way to help you. The racism is most apparent with Filipinas, and some comments HKers make about them reveal a strong contempt. You will almost never see HK hanging around with Filipinas unless it is a work/living arrangement. But there is the odd idiot here who is rabidly anti-western. In fact to tell you the truth the most rabid racism I have ever encountererd was on two separate occassions in Hong Kong. I have written about these incidents here before. One led to a man screaming at my mainland Chinese wife that she was a *beep*, and demanding to know how many men she had slept with. In the other incident a middle aged man started yelling at me in the line at the post ofice because I had unknowingly stood in the wrong line. He pointed his finger at my face at close range and started yelling "Do you think you are special because you have a white face!?" So I am a bit careful in publc places now. There are a certain number of crazies out there. But the best thing to do is focus on the good people. As the Hindu saying goes, "When you met the tiger on the path, step out of the way."

There's less anti-Japanese stuff here. That problem in the mainland has been exacerbatd by continual stream of propaganda shoved down people's throats. The Japanese invasion and atrocities during WW2 and the anti-Japanese hatred that exists in China at present are not a natural extension of one another. The hate has been used and abused for political purposes, and is also a psychological projection, I believe, as leading authority figures in China cannot be criticised. i.e. Whereas people vent against politicians in democracies, in China they have to find outside sources.

And Taiwan and Hong Kong? Like chalk and cheese. Don't even think they are much the same.
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11:59



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 632
Location: Hong Kong: The 'Pearl of the Orient'

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ninjamon wrote:
how do hong kong people react to foreigners learning cantonese? encouraging or laugh in your face?

http://www.happyjellyfish.com/content/SCMP%20Sept%2029,%2004.pdf
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ninjamon



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so what you are saying is that Hong Kong is just China, but with more money?

I thought it was supposed to be some sort of glamour city of the Far East (please don't laugh...well not too hard)

disappointing
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Horizontal Hero



Joined: 26 Mar 2004
Posts: 2492
Location: The civilised little bit of China.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ninjamon wrote:
so what you are saying is that Hong Kong is just China, but with more money?

I thought it was supposed to be some sort of glamour city of the Far East (please don't laugh...well not too hard)

disappointing


Everyone has a different opinion of HK. I wouldn't call it a glamour city. There's the high-rises of HK Island which look all glittery and stuff, but the average Zhou here is still, well, Chinese. Most of HK is pretty down to Earth and unsophisticated. But that doesn't make it any less interesting. In fact I like many of the less "developed" parts. You might well like HK. I think I like it overall, but I don't find it an easy place to live.
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11:59



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 632
Location: Hong Kong: The 'Pearl of the Orient'

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ninjamon wrote:
so what you are saying is that Hong Kong is just China, but with more money?

I thought it was supposed to be some sort of glamour city of the Far East (please don't laugh...well not too hard)

disappointing


OP, first, we have to draw a distinction between the facilities of the SAR of HK and the populace, that is, its 'indigenous' (read, non-ex-pat) inhabitants, viz., the locals (or, as I prefer to term them, the natives). For whereas the former are quite obviously First World, advanced, and modern (the underground train system the MTR is equal to that of Tokyo, for example) the latter are distinctly Third World in their outlook/world view and outward behaviour (Filipinos, Indonesians, Indians, and Mainlanders all share the somewhat dubious honour of being openly detested by the HK Chinese). Second, contrary to popular opinion, HK is not an international 'glamour' city of the Far East. Indeed, it is overwhelmingly homogenous, with some 95% of the city's residents being Chinese. It is true that the remaining 5% are certainly a mixed bunch (with many races and nationalities represented) but it is at the end of the day a mere 5% of the total population, and of that slim percentage of non-Chinese residents, some 40% (i.e., nearly half of the non-Chinese population) are Filipino domestic helpers. One thing that has always puzzled me is why and how HK ever secured a reputation for being international. My guess is that an illusion if created by high-profile foreigners and/or the plethora of international firms with offices here. In short, do not come to HK expecting a forward-thinking, US- or European-style metropolis; assume it is distinctly Chinese, inward-looking, racist, and, facilities aside, backward.

As regards their attitudes towards the Japanese, that is a bit trickier to fathom out. There have been marches and protests over the course of the last 4 or 5 years it is true, but I would not term them 'anti-Japanese', and they have, to the credit of the Hong Kongers, always been calm and dignified. Most middle-class Hong Kongers revel in imported Japanese goods (particularly skin-whitening products), food (there are sushi houses galore), go to Japan 'on holiday' (read, 'shopping expeditions'), and simply love SOGO. And you'll see no end of signs outside hairdressers which advertise new styles which can make would-be customers 'look Japanese' (!). In addition, you'll come across no end of girls who go in for the Japanese 'Gal' or 'Kogal' look and who give themselves Japanese 'English' names, such as, for example, Yuki, Nano, Sakura, Yuko, Ran, etc.

Please also try to bear in mind that most if not all youngsters in HK are incapable of even placing HK on a world map, let alone relating stories of past atrocities committed by (what is to them) some distant generation in (what is to them) the distant past. As I recounted quite recently on this here forum, the vast majority of my post-graduate students were not even aware of the tsunami of but a few years ago not exactly a million miles away from here, so it would be quite odd and quixotic for them to be in any way, shape, fashion or form aware of any events in history.

Remember also that, for those who do know of past atrocities committed by the Japanese, although deep down they may resent Japan the country and the Japanese the people as a result of such past events, these feelings come into direct conflict with their (seemingly greater) desire to distance themselves from the dreaded Mainlanders, who according to most Hong Kongers, are the real scum of the Earth, second only to Indians (who are smelly and who are thieves), Indonesians (who are smelly and backward), and Flips (who are thick, smelly, and who are thieves). One way of further distancing themselves from their Mainland cousins of course is to align themselves with the Japanese and Japanese culture. And, as I have noted, to their minds at least, they can achieve this through eating at sushi restaurants, wearing Japanese-style haircuts, making annual shopping trips to Tokyo, and watching crappy Japanese soap operas on TV.
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ninjamon



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@11:59

ok, i c. do you speak cantonese? i found when i was in the mainland my opinion of the chinese went down as my ability with mandarin went up (particularly when i started to be able to read the gist of newspapers and discovered where they get their looney ideas from). if i don't bother to learn cantonese, would that help? is ignorance bliss?
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Serious_Fun



Joined: 28 Jun 2005
Posts: 1159
Location: terra incognita

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

11:59 wrote:
Please also try to bear in mind that most if not all youngsters in HK are incapable of even placing HK on a world map, let alone relating stories of past atrocities committed by (what is to them) some distant generation in (what is to them) the distant past. As I recounted quite recently on this here forum, the vast majority of my post-graduate students were not even aware of the tsunami of but a few years ago not exactly a million miles away from here, so it would be quite odd and quixotic for them to be in any way, shape, fashion or form aware of any events in history.


I must admit to being absolutely shocked by the ignorance of world events exhibited by my Form 4 through Form 7 students..."The 2008 Olympics" is the stock phrase for any and all geopolitical discussion(s).

Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored textbooks can be thrown away now?

Unit 1 - Hong Kong Shopping- Duty-Free Paradise.
Unit 2 - Asia's World City.
Unit 3 - Hong Kong - Centre of the Universe.
Unit 4 - Hong Kong Shopping- Duty-Free Paradise.
Unit 5 - Asia's World City
Unit 6 - Hong Kong - We Have Lots Of Restaurants
Unit 7 - Review: Hong Kong- Shopping
Unit 8 - Hong Kong - Shopping and Eating
Unit 9 - HKCEE Paper 1, 2, and Oral Exam: (Hong Kong, Shopping, Eating)
Unit 10 - Asia's World City and Duty-Free Shopping
Unit 11 - Hong Kong: Financial Centre
Unit 12 - Shopping and Eating Review
Unit 13 - Hong Kong : We Still Have Lots Of Restaurants
Unit 14 - Shopping
Unit 15 - Eating Out in Hong Kong

but: our students understand these topics!!

Laughing
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hkteach



Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 202
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that the idea of Hong Kong as a glamourous city is incorrect.
The night views of the city skyline are spectacular, it's true, but it's a city of absolute contrasts.

The glitzy commercial buildings and high end apartment blocks are in areas where there are lots of old, dreadful-looking housing estate towers of shoebox type flats.
If you look up, you see filthy, grimy exteriors, thirty or more floors of barred windows with washing hanging from them and a totally desolate feel. I can only imagine the living conditions within.
This is the lot of the poor here in Hong Kong, except if the government decides to tear down their homes and relocate them out to some other area where they have the same kind of terrible housing (except without their social network.)
In any true worldclass city, these public housing towers would be at least properly maintained. But here, they just get let go till they are eventually pulled down for more office blocks or upmarket apartment blocks.
Take a good look around and you'll see people wearing high end clothing and jewellery, real Rolex watches, computer bags, blackberry gizmos sitting in a coffee shop while a stooped, 80 year old woman pushes a cart of flattened cardboard up a steep hill (this provides her meagre income when it's sold for re-use or recycling).

The fact that Hong Kong doesn't have a decent social welfare system is the reason why these contrasts exist.
Only yesterday a teacher at my school told me she gives 30% of her salary to her retired parents. This is to enable them to have some sort of comforts in their old age.

But this is a culture where appearance is EVERYTHING and loss of face is the ultimate disgrace.
Never mind that something isn't functional or practical (or perhaps doesn't even work at all) it's how it LOOKS that counts. e.g. the recent tearing down of the OLD Star Ferry terminal and the continuing redevelopment of Soho and other areas of Central and Sheung Wan.
If it's old, get rid of it. Bad luck about losing the city's heritage. Too bad about the historical or cultural significance.

You can see examples of this thinking in many aspects of daily life -
This city has a magnificent harbour but it's almost totally off limits to the public - miles and miles of harbourfront and hardly any public access because it's all used for shipyards, new roads or yet another tower.
In any "worldclass" city, there would be parks, bike tracks and picnic areas along the harbour. But here, it's just another thing that you can look at but not touch.

It's the same thing in "parks" - those beautifully landscaped areas dotted around the city - no bikes, no kite-flying, no ball games, no dogs (even on a leash) keep off the grass, no smoking etc. etc. etc. You may walk through a park, sit in a park and admire the manicured plants but don't for one minute think you can actually DO anything.

On a smaller scale there's the things that are sold in the thousands of bakeries here. Cakes. ............ooooh now I've started............ lovely to look at, but totally without substance.
They sound and look fabulous.... chestnut chocolate, mango delight, strawberry napoleon, tiramisu, blueberry cheesecake...... but bite into them and flavoured cotton wool is what they are.
See, they LOOK good - form doesn't follow function, it IS the function.

Ok rant over. Now I feel depressed.
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