Has Hong Kong changed since 1997?

Question: How has Hong Kong changed since 1997? Is it no longer a good place to live? What does the future hold?

Mr Tall replies: Obviously, this is a contentious issue on which speculation is easy, and finding definitive answers hard indeed. My impression is that Hong Kong is just as good a place to live these days as it was when I arrived in 1990, but not for all the same reasons. In some ways, the living here for a westerner is easier than ever, with better, more affordable housing, better transport, and better access to western restaurants/foods/other amenities. But these improvements have been offset to some degree by threats to the status of the rule of law in Hong Kong, and broad, long-term concerns over the future of China in general.

Clearly, though, as you will see by looking around the rest of this site, I still like Hong Kong very much indeed, and have no plans whatever to leave. It's a great place to live.


Question: I am concerned about the legal system as well as the tax structure, since Hong Kong is based on common law whereas China is not (yet). How do things stand in these areas?

Mr Tall replies: You know, I've started thinking about the very same issues. I like to worry about the future (I come from a family full of accomplished worriers and doom-and-gloomers) and it's also the tax thing that gets me. Right now HK is essentially a tax haven (find out more about taxes in Hong Kong here), but what about at retirement age? Mrs Tall and I think we'd like to live here at least part of the time, and hence be able to maintain nice low taxes on our retirement investments. But who knows what'll be going on by then? Anyway, by 2047 I'll likely be glad just to be putting on my socks by myself.

A reader adds: Well from I've read in the Basic Law, the Special Administrative Region will still continue after 2047. The only thing that *could* change is the capitalist system, but my HK accountant says that currently there are no plans for such a change and as long as the system will continue to work (which it should) there should be no reason to change the system.

I think the SAR will continue to stay until China as a whole is on par with Hong Kong. It would be pointless to take a step backward and move to a worse legal and economic system as well as almost impossible to do without creating a huge mess.


Post 1997

There is a Cantonese saying about Post 1997 with horse-racing (gambling) continuing to take place and life continuing on as before by dancing to the same beat, albeit, the conductor has changed.