Dealing with transition: Experience of a university graduate in Hong Kong

TK is a Hong Kong local. Photo:

TK is a graduate of the reputed University of Hong Kong, whose courses are taught in English. He calls himself "a remnant of the British colonial rule", because he finished his higher education before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China.

The 48-year-old Hong Kong local can hardly remember all the things that happened on July 1, 1997 when Beijing assumed sovereignty over the former British colony, except the scene of the last British governor Chris Patten and his three daughters shedding tears which was broadcast on television.

After its return to China in 1997, Hong Kong experienced waves of immigration which had started in the 1980s, with Canada being a popular destination for investment immigrants. TK's father and elder brother are among those who have never come back to Hong Kong after moving to Canada. And the two nieces of TK got fully accustomed to the Western culture and lifestyle in Canada and spoke Cantonese only with the relatives in Hong Kong.

However, TK decided to stay, which he described as the most important decision he has ever made. Although he had a matric to study in Canada, he eventually chose to study at the University of Hong Kong, majoring in engineering. Before 1992, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong were the only universities in Hong Kong, and their graduates were the best of the elites at the time.

Currently, TK works as an engineering adviser in a local company. "I can do this job till I retire," TK said. But he always persuades his young subordinate staff to consider other options for their future career, citing the fact that there are less chances left for people to climb up the corporate ladder in Hong Kong when compared with his school time.

Heightened contradiction

In recent years, TK found Hong Kong residents to be more "harsh" compared with the years shortly after the 1997 handover when the local people basically accepted the political change with pleasure but looked down upon the mainland people due to the economic backwardness. Now, this discrimination has escalated to a hatred caused by the "unreasonable" allocation of jobs and educational resources with the influx of more mainland settlers and visitors.

However, TK, who has no child with his wife, said that his life is not affected by the situation, adding that his family seldom dines and shops in places full of people. Instead, he said that he has become more used to the cultural differences between Hong Kong and the mainland, as he frequently makes business trips to the mainland.

"Although I always think in a Western way due to my Western-style education, I have to admit that I am a Chinese. This is a fact that cannot be denied," TK said, adding that he is used to communicating with people in Mandarin.

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