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“In this vibrant city, I feel energy, freedom and efficiency”: Hong Kong in eyes of foreign residents

Photo taken on July 27, 2019 shows a ferryboat sailing from the Victoria Bay in south China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. (Photo by Duan Changzheng/People’s Daily Online)
Photo taken on July 27, 2019 shows a ferryboat sailing from the Victoria Bay in south China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. (Photo by Duan Changzheng/People’s Daily Online)

There is a group of foreigners in Hong Kong who first came here for work, business, or pursuing dreams. While living in the city, the beautiful “Pearl of the Orient” has become their second hometown.

When talking about the upcoming 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), they agree that the “one country, two systems” principle is conducive to Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity, stability and development.


“July 1 is a special day for Hong Kong. I watched the handover ceremony on TV 25 years ago,” said 74-year-old Richard Cullen.

Cullen, a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong, chose to stay in the city after moving here from Australia more than 30 years ago.

“Very soon after I arrived in Hong Kong, I realized I was living in a unique world city,” said Cullen. “In this vibrant city, I feel energy, freedom and efficiency.”

In the eyes of Cullen, the practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong has been a great success, which has come through all the tests in the past 25 years, especially the 2019 chaos.

As a law professor, he pointed out that “the national security law in Hong Kong has done a very good job.” Since the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong, chaos stopped and social stability has been restored in this city, he added.

He is disgusted with the attempts of some external forces to suppress China’s development at the expense of Hong Kong’s interests, saying, “What is truly good for China is good for Hong Kong. Without China, there would not be Hong Kong.”

When speaking of the three major elections since the improvement to the HKSAR’s electoral system, Cullen said that they were all very successful. “There was nobody running around, throwing things or shouting,” he said.

“No city can replace Hong Kong in my view,” said Cullen. “I wish Hong Kong all the best. It deserves that.”


U.S. businessman Jim Thompson’s office is on the top floor of a building in the downtown Wan Chai area. To the north of the office are the Golden Bauhinia Square and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Looking out of his office window, he clearly remembered the historic moment of Hong Kong’s return (to the motherland) 25 years ago.

Every year since 2003, Thompson was invited to attend the anniversary celebration events held by the HKSAR government, never missing it once. “The ‘one country, two systems’ principle has worked well for the past 25 years,” he said.

In the 1960s, Thompson, chairman of logistics company Crown Worldwide Group, set up his company in Japan. In 1978, he moved the company’s headquarters to Hong Kong and has remained committed to the city ever since.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR. “After 25 years, our business has grown stronger and our ability to operate in Hong Kong has improved in many ways,” he said.

In Thompson’s view, the steady opening-up of the Chinese market has provided very good opportunities for Hong Kong-based businesses and many companies have thus been able to expand.

Noting that many successful mainland enterprises and individuals have invested in Hong Kong and got their companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, he said, “This was a huge support for Hong Kong financial markets and allowed Hong Kong to remain as the third leading financial center in the world.”

Hong Kong being backed by the Chinese mainland, and especially being a part of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, will always be a key advantage for local businesses, according to Thompson.

Hong Kong has gone through lots of ups and downs in the past 25 years, but in every case, it quickly bounced back and got stronger, he noted.

“I believe the Chinese government wants Hong Kong to succeed and be a strong part of the country,” said Thompson, hoping that people in Hong Kong continue to embrace and love this city.


John Swindleton, 34, is from Canada. He is attracted by the opportunities offered by Hong Kong’s rapid economic development.

After graduating from university, he got a short-term internship in Hong Kong. Swindleton then decided to stay in the financial hub. He now works at a bank.

To Swindleton, Hong Kong is a place for him to realize his career goals. “There are a lot of opportunities here for me to start my career.”

A lot of international firms chose to do business in Hong Kong, because it is the gateway connecting the Chinese mainland with the rest of the world, he said.

“This geographical advantage gives comfort for international firms to do business here,” he noted.

Recalling some people’s concern about Hong Kong’s prospects before its return to the motherland in 1997, he said, “But Hong Kong has taken off since, and the track record speaks for itself.”

Hong Kong is still one of the freest economies in the world, he added.

Swindleton believed the “one country, two systems” principle is a success. He shared with Xinhua an article from which he once read that “Hong Kong residents enjoy far more rights and freedoms in accordance with the law than they did before 1997.”

During his leisure time, Swindleton enjoys going to Hong Kong-style cafes and having local food like dim sum. “Hong Kong is an East-meets-West city where foreigners can enjoy a merge between the cultures, and you can enjoy cuisines from all over the world,” he said.

The natural scenery in Hong Kong is also charming. A hiking and climbing enthusiast, he said it is very convenient to reach hiking trails and beaches within a short distance from downtown.

“Hong Kong is really an attractive place and it doesn’t change,” he said.

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