Two weeks ago, I interviewed two students from Mainland China and Hong Kong. This time, I would like to explore the cultural diversity among Macau and Hong Kong. Why do I choose these two places? It is because both Macau and Hong Kong were once colonies. As such, I assume that they might share similar customs and values with relation to their Chinese heritage - despite having different colonial influences. Besides, mainland China is closely related to these two places regarding economic, political and social support, so I would like to know more about the thought of Macanese and Hong Kongese in respect to the mainland China.
First of all, I would like to briefly introduce Macau, as some of you might be unfamiliar with this place. Macau is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It used to be a colony of Portugal before 1999. When we talk about Macau, what usually comes to mind are the grand casinos of various colors. With more than 25 casinos in a city, Macau is sometimes called “The Eastern Las Vegas.” The official languages of Macau are Chinese and Portuguese (however, I found most of my friends from Macau do not speak Portuguese). Believe it or not, Macau is the most densely populated place in the world.
Just as in Hong Kong, some people in Macau feel uncomfortable about the assimilation and interference of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Besides, there are a lot of conflicts between mainland China and Macau as well. I had a great chance to have a discussion with two Chinese students, one from Macau and one from Hong Kong. Once again, it is important to note that their voices are based on their personal experience and point of view. They do not represent all the people from Macau and Hong Kong.
Mans: an international student from Macau.
Calvin: an international student from Hong Kong.
Mans, given that Macau is very near to Hong Kong. I bet you always visit Hong Kong every year. Would you mind to talk about your impression of Hong Kong briefly?
Mans: You are right; most of my friends and I always go to Hong Kong. The reasons are that there are more choices of food, and the dishes are more delicious than Macau’s. Especially, I love the Japanese food in Hong Kong. I also enjoy shopping there as it is a shopping paradise with large shopping malls in every district.
Calvin: I cannot agree more that the food quality is not bad in Hong Kong, despite the waiting time to get a seat in the restaurant.
Mans: Ya, even if I’d make a reservation in advance, I would still have to wait for a table. Lots of restaurants' wait time is around 45 minutes to one hour. When I go to the local restaurant, especially those that are not fancy, you can’t even reserve a seat. Not only the restaurant but also everything else, such as transportation and boutiques. There are lots of people everywhere in Hong Kong!
I do agree you have to line up for everything in Hong Kong. It is a busy city, you know. Calvin, what do you think about Macau?
Calvin: Hmm, I have only visited Macau once, so I do not know much about it. To me, although Macau is very near to Hong Kong, it is all about gambling. Personally, I do not gamble a lot, so there is not much reason for me to visit Macau. Hmm.. some of my friends do go to Macau’s casino every half year. They told me the Thai food in Macau is very nice.
Although I visit Macau once a year, I have never had a chance to try their Thai food before. I thought Macau is famous for Portuguese cuisines instead. I should visit the Thai restaurant on my next trip to Macau. So, I would like to know more what you have heard about the stereotypes or misinterpretation of Hong Kong and Macau?
Mans: Despite the geographical intimacy between Hong Kong and Macau, it is interesting that Hong Konger always asks me some weird but funny questions about Macau. For example, “Does Macau have an airport? Do Macau people speak Cantonese? Does Macau have its own television station? Does Macau have any shopping mall? Does Macau people do this or do that….. ”. Hmm, although I am not offended by these questions, still I am wondering how come people from Hong Kong have no ideas how Macau or Macau people like.
Calvin: Haha, I used to get confused with Macau with Mainland China as well. The way Macau people speak, sometimes I feel like they are from Guangzhou.
Mans: For the stereotype of Hong Kong, people seems have to work overtime every single day, as if they are very busy and have a lot of work to do. My friends and I used to think Hong Kong people are good at English. However, when I’ve met more and more friends from Hong Kong at UBCO, I found that their comprehension and writing skills are pretty good but not the verbal fluency. Other than that, it seems like they are quite smart and competitive as well.
Calvin: Hong Kong’s property market is probably the world’s most unaffordable one. I admit that most people in Hong Kong, especially the lower class and the middle class, work very hard to buy an apartment. We have to choice but to work and work and work to get a place to live. After deducting the transportation fees and food expense, almost all the portions of our earnings go to the payment of the housing mortgage.
How about the economic activities in Macau and Hong Kong?
Mans: When it comes to economic activities, Macau relies heavily on gambling business and this brings a significant amount of tax revenue to our government. Many residents, especially the housewives, would like to work for the casino given the enormous demand of dealer. With the significant amount of tax revenue from gambling business, our government will give out more than 1000 CAD to each resident once a year. Besides, there are different subsidies and social welfare available for us as well. For example, as an international student, I can receive some subsidies from the government to pay for the tuition fee here. Overall, gambling business is the heart of Macau.
Calvin: For the major economic activities in Hong Kong, I believe they are financial activities and retailing services. Since Hong Kong is one of the leading international financial centers in the world, it attracts foreigners to invest our stock market and property. Also, as a shopping and food paradise, we rely heavily on tourism.
Calvin: To be honest, I am quite jealous that you receive money from the government every year, Mans. It has only happened once that the Hong Kong government gave out approximately 1000 CAD for citizens who were older than 18 years old. Many noises have arisen since then. Some think that the money distributed should be better invest on projects that help people in need. Others think that a lot of people just use the money to buy the luxury product, such as the newest version of iPhone. So, after the first year, our government has stopped giving money out to the residents.
How about the political sense of these two places? What do you think?
Calvin: I believe Macau people is quite satisfied with the government as I seldom notice there is any protest against the government in Macau. In Hong Kong, politics are complicated. Many people are trying to fight for democracy concerning the interference of the Chinese government.
Mans: Generally, most citizens in Macau do not care about the political issue. It does not mean we are satisfied with the government. I feel like we are more pleased with the money given out by the government every year. Therefore, we seldom have the massive protest against our government or react intensely to the action of Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In my opinion, the government uses the money to shut our mouth. By doing so, it has speeded up the assimilation of Macau to the mainland China.
So you've just mentioned assimilation. Can you tell me more about this?
Mans: It seems like the CCP are planning to rename Macau’s Chinese name and they are also trying to change our educational curriculum to improve our sense of belongings to China. I believe both Macau and Hong Kong cannot escape the fate of returning to China collectively. Maybe in our generation, there are people still fighting against the interference of the Chinese government. However, China is trying to change us by setting up more laws and changing the language and custom. Eventually and unconsciously, Macau and Hong Kong will certainly integrate into the People's Republic of China. They may lose the Special Administrative Region status as well. Furthermore, people may start to pronounce the name of Macau and Hong Kong with the pronunciation of Mandarin as Aomen and Xianggang, instead of “Macau” and "Hong Kong."
Calvin: I agree that assimilation might seems inevitable to us. I believe some mainland Chinese might think we are too naïve as our rebellion is childish. They might believe that it is impossible for us to throw away the Chinese heritage that composed us. They may further assume that Western education pollutes us. Since we have practiced capitalism for a long time, we have already come into contact with democracy and human right. We just want to have a right to choose for our future. We just want to have a right to choose for our future. I understand it might sound stupid to defense against a strong government as China; however, we want to fight for the things we want rather than reject the things that we don’t want. I believe it is a long fight. If we do not try to fight for the future of Hong Kong, the city will die very soon.
After having a discussion with Mans and Calvin on behalf of Macau and Hong Kong, it is interesting to find that although these two places share common backgrounds, they have different points of view and attitude regarding the return to China.
There is a slogan called “Today Hong Kong and Macau, tomorrow Taiwan”. A lot of people think Macau and Hong Kong are the templets of Taiwan regarding the return of sovereignty to China. As such, I am curious to find out how Taiwan people see the relationship with the mainland China in the next series of blog.