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Hong Kong Culture

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Hong Kong is a place that is well known for the blending culture of East and West. The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese and English. Although the mother tongue for most of its people is Chinese (spoken Cantonese), but due to the long tradition of English education system and its cultural introduction, many locals can speak good English as well. As the city's reunification with the motherland and the increasing number of Mainland tourists as well as many Hong Kongers to do business there, more and more people can speak or to learn Mandarin (Putonghua). Cantonese is a spoken dialect of the Chinese language family, which in written form is still of Chinese characters while Putonghua, the official spoken language on the Mainland, is becoming more common in the city. So every well-educated person in Hong Kong must command Cantonese, Putonghua and English fluently. Hong Kong people are mostly very polite and helpful, when you have a problem about where to go, eat or buy, they will clearly answer you.

The most newspapers that circulate in Hong Kong are in Chinese with two English papers, South China Morning Post and The Standard. Periodicals and entertainment magazines are popular among the public. The tabloid-style but big newspapers and magazines are most loved by local youth. There are two local television and three radio stations with Chinese and English broadcast channels in Hong Kong, and of course, thanks to the high computer and satellite technologies, Internet and satellite television and radio are widely available and easily accessible. The local English TV channels are showing news and current affairs programmes, imported television series and documentaries, while radios are broadcasting Western pop music, talk shows, comedies and classical music etc.


Owing to Western culture that rooted in and the Chinese culture in the hearts of local people, Hong Kong's culture has its own characteristics, which no other cities in the world that akin to it. The local Chinese are mainly living with the traditional Chinese principle, especially the middle-aged and the elderly, albeit the majority of them were taught by the education system during the colonial period and absorbed the good ingredients of the Western, or to more extent, the British culture. The younger generation, however, due to the global trend of popular culture and the change of local social situation especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is tend to be more concern about their own affairs, as contrasted to the family-oriented generations in the past. Therefore the local government has to change its social welfare policy from time to time to cope the ever-changing condition. But hardworking, pragmatic and passionate are still the personality of Hong Kong people.

With the increasing number of Mainlanders go living in Hong Kong and the locals are going north to do business or living, the social structure is gradually changed from outbound to homebound. In recent years, many locals who were immigrated to the Western world during the 1980s and 1990s have returned to their hometown because the economic decline in their living countries. They are now contributing the Hong Kong's economy as they did before they left.

The Hong Kong spirit means hard working with paying much attention to every detail, standing firm in facing new challenges, high degree of adaptability and globalization. All these things had made Hong Kong success and continue to serve now and in the future. Hong Kong people dislike wasting time, doing business hurriedly but so orderly and well organised. But they always have deep affection to their own family, even if they go abroad.

The daily life of the common people is the same as before 1997. After a hard working day, most commuters want to get home hurriedly, watching TV evening news and current affairs programmes or feeling hungry for dinner, while some others will go to pub or cafe to chat with friends. They love the local soap operas or entertainment news very much, of which the TV series symbolise the feeling of the local Chinese community----employment, love, justice and family matters so on. By contrast, the local films are often concentrating on crime fighting and triad gang which is the other side of the society. Just like the tabloids in the Western countries, the entertainment news, both on TV and in newspapers, are mostly about the trivial and private affairs of local celebrities.

In weekends, Hong Kongers like family gathering or yum cha, doing exercise, watching television or listening radio programmes, going out to beaches in outlying islands with their loved ones, dining out and singing relaxingly the Cantopop songs with friends in karaoke bars, as well as to take part in some volunteer activities, while Hong Kong children love to watch cartoon animation programmes on TV. For longer vacations, they like to go travel abroad, especially to neighbouring Southeast Asian Countries, and Mainland tours have become a trend.

The cultural life of Hong Kong people is more colourful than you think. Apart from local movies and pop songs, they love reading, whatever the kinds of books ranging from popular local sentimental love novels to philosophy of Western and Oriental; from fashion magazines to books about traditional arts. Classical music of Western and traditional Chinese genres are being listened by many, and a great number of book or record stores in Hong Kong have classical music section selling classical CDs, VCDs or DVDs. Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra hold concerts regularly in weekends during their seasons from early September to early July the following year. The two orchestras have composers in residence who compose new works at commission. Artists and orchestras from around the world perform in town throughout the year. The main concert halls in Hong Kong are the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the City Hall and the Sha Tin Town Hall. RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) Radio 4 is a classical channel with full music programmes, reviews, concert live broadcasts and musical education.

Drama is also popular in the city. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts produces many excellent drama performers for Hong Kong's theatres. Photography, video, hi-fi and computer enthusiasts are also common in Hong Kong.


The education system has been maintained in Hong Kong nowadays, which is quite British with local properties. The Education and Manpower Bureau operates Hong Kong's public schools. The system features a non-compulsory three-year kindergarten, followed by a compulsory six-year primary education, three-year junior secondary education; a non-compulsory two-year senior secondary education leading to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations and a two-year matriculation course leading to the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations. A new "3+3+4" curriculum that consists of a three-year junior secondary, three-year senior secondary and four-year undergraduate academic system, to be implemented from 2009 (for senior secondary) and 2012 (for tertiary) onwards. There are also tertiary institutions offering various Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees, other higher diplomas, and associate degree courses.

At the higher education levels, both British and American systems do exist. The University of Hong Kong, which is the oldest institution of tertiary education, has traditionally been based on the British model but has incorporated some elements of the American in recent years. The Chinese University of Hong Kong follows the American model with a characteristically British college system. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was established on the American model. There are nine public universities in Hong Kong, and a number of private higher institutions. Lingnan University is the only university in Hong Kong that provides Liberal Arts Education.

Well-to-do people in Hong Kong have a tradition to go study in Western countries like Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; but the number of young people studying in the Mainland's universities is increasing.


Hong Kong people are quite religious also. Different religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Hindus and Sikh; of which the folk version of Buddhism is followed by about 90% of the total population and a sizable Christian community of around 500,000, which is roughly divided equally between Protestants and Catholics. There are about 200,000 followers in each of authentic Buddhism and Taoism. Traditionally, because of its early role in fishing, many Hong Kongers believe in Tin Hau, the protector of seafarers. Tin Hau Temples have been worshipped in Hong Kong for about 300 years, Hung Shing, another protector of seafarers, has also been honoured for centuries; and Wong Tai Sin Temple is the most popular Buddhist temple in Hong Kong that located at the heart of the city. The Tian Tan Buddha Statue in Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is the world largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha. Hong Kong people, especially older generations, often visit Taoist or Buddhist temples to appease the deities and, usually, to request compassion, good health or good fortune, as well as gifts of food, and in particular fruit, are presented, and incense and paper offerings are burnt in respect. Christmas and Easter are still stipulated as official holidays. Apart from offering religious instructions, many major religious organisations have established schools and provided social welfare facilities.


The powerful action films in Hong Kong have been very famous around the world. Several Hollywood stars come from Hong Kong's cinema----Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat and Jackie Chan. Behind the camera, Hong Kong filmmakers have also struck fortune in Hollywood such as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, Tsui Hark and martial arts choreographers who have designed fight scenes in the Matrix trilogy, Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Back in Hong Kong, several home-made films have also gained international recognition such as Chungking Express, Infernal Affairs, Shaolin Soccer, Rumble in the Bronx and In the Mood for Love. Acclaimed filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has said that he's strongly influenced by Hong Kong action cinema. Apart from the worldwide glory and fame, some of the Hong Kong action thrillers depict the real life in the darker side of the society and the agony that normal folks endure.

The film industry in Hong Kong can be traced back to early 20th Century when movies were silence. After the World War II, local films were still in B/W and mostly about the poor life and labour among common people, or based on traditional Chinese folklores. It is funny to realise that the background music in many movies in the 1950s and early 60s were Western classical works or film scores. In 1960s due to beginning of the economic boom, the films were cheerer and more about the naive romance of young people with some Broadway-style ingredient. With Bruce Lee grown up and back to HK from the US, martial art films became popular in Hong Kong in 1970s and 80s. In 1980s, the films told the stories of common people who wanted to immigrate abroad during the transitional period before Hong Kong's reunification with the motherland, ghost stories, police stories, triad gangs and of course, love. In the 90s, a wave of hard core triad movies came into the cinema with certain comedies starring Stephen Chau, and love in films has become more explicitly depicted in the new century.

Hong Kong is the main hub in Cantopop songs amongst Chinese communities. Cantopop, which songs sung in Cantonese, are catering the ears of the local Chinese. The history of the Cantopop isn't long, the real genre of it appeared in the 1960s, when some local movies were shot under the influence of Broadway, Cantonese songs were being sung while the performers were dancing. A few songs adapted from Western original tunes with Cantonese lyrics are often popular. The Cantopop industry has cradled many local pop stars and bands like Sam Hui, Kwan Ching Kit, Tsui Siu Feng, Roman Tam, Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, Aaron Kwok, Jackie Cheung, Kelly Chan, The Winners, Beyond, The Grasshopper and the urban folk-style female group The Dream Theatre.

Nowadays Cantopop stars are also playing major roles in Hong Kong and Mainland films. The notable ones are Leon Lai, Andy Lau, Faye Wong, Gigi Leung, Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse.

The heat in the Cantopop scene has made the karaoke business prosperous in Hong Kong and some large cities on the Mainland. The Cantopop stars have become the idols among local youngsters. Western rock' n' roll or R & B is popular in the city also.

The traditional horse racing still exists in Hong Kong. Regular meeting is to be held every weekend afternoon and Wednesday night during the horse racing season that beginning from September to early July the following year. All racing meetings and betting services are hosted and provided solely by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The final section of famous Rossini's William Tell Overture is the unofficial theme tune for horse racing. The Mark Six Lottery is a "6 out of 47" lotto game conducted by the Hong Kong Lotteries Board using the facilities of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Betting is a favourite pastime for Hong Kongers, and they like going to Macau to bet as well.

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