Reflections on China and Hong Kong; looking forward to KL, SG, and asean.



The bus lurches and I jerk awake. The clock reads 09:37, and I congratulate myself for sleeping away the past hour and a half. About two hours earlier, the delegation departed from Guangzhou (pronounced guang-jo in Mandarin, and guang-zhow in Cantonese) headed for Hong Kong's international airport. This bus ride, and the flight it is carrying us to, ends the China leg of the trade mission. I have met way more people in Hong Kong from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University here than I ever dreamed. Since I'm from Vancouver, where these two Universities are based, this bodes well for a future move to the booming Chinese economy. It is truly incredible how well connected Canada is with Hong Kong; many of my new connections were born in China, grew up in Vancouver, and returned to Hong Kong to start their careers and their families.

In terms of lifestyle, Hong Kong itself is an amazing metropolitan city. I love that you can do anything at any time of day. It's amazing the sheer number of people that have packed themselves into such a small geographic area, and because of that, there's always something going on. I've never been to New York, but I imagine there is a strong parallel between Honk Kong and North America's most densely populated city. There's even a pretty decent salsa dancing scene in Hong Kong about three nights a week... these are the sorts of things a young Vancouverite concerns himself with when considering moving to China's business hub.

The next leg of our journey will take us to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Singapore is a major player in asean (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations). Collectively, asean (pronouned ah-see-an, not 'asian') represent a $2 trillion USD emerging market, with the combined economic power of Malaysia, Thailand, Phillines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, and Thailand. This is nowhere near as large as the $7 trillion USD Chinese market, which surpasses the other three BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, and India combined, but $2 trillion is still very substantial. And it's growing.

Hong Kong is positioned as the entry point to Asia. It will be interesting to see how Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the next two cities we visit, have positioned themselves in the international business community. Although Hong Kong and China may be the world's largest emerging markets by far, with extreme investments in infrastructure still going on to date, the air quality leaves something to be desired. I'm realizing that being from Vancouver, I'm more than a little spoiled, and I wonder which of these international cities will hold a better nexus between opportunity and lifestyle for a young professional such as myself.

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador