(HKSAR 25) Feature: Diversity, opportunity, safety: what attracts foreign residents to Hong Kong-Xinhua

(HKSAR 25) Feature: Diversity, opportunity, safety: what attracts foreign residents to Hong Kong

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-06-17 10:55:58

HONG KONG, June 17 (Xinhua) -- A visitor to Hong Kong may be first amazed by the variety of food the city has to offer: in addition to traditional Chinese food, one can easily find Japanese sushi, Thai curry and Spanish paella within a short walk.

An international business and financial center boasting openness and diversity, Hong Kong is home to some 600,000 non-Chinese residents, many of whom have stayed here for decades.

Since its return to the motherland in 1997, Hong Kong has become more inclusive and diverse, with an increasing number of foreign residents and a more favorable environment for them to live and thrive.


Living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, Pakistani Abdus Samee sees the city as his second home.

Speaking fluent Cantonese, the 22-year old now lives a lifestyle shared by many Hong Kongers: spending long hours in the workplace during weekdays while going hiking and cycling with friends during the days off.

But the process of social integration never comes easy for Samee, who once struggled to communicate with his classmates in school.

Like many foreigners, Samee was faced with language barriers as a child. But with the help of a non-profit organization specialized in helping ethnic minorities adapt to the society, Samee quickly picked up Cantonese and English as well as some Mandarin Chinese.

"I was grateful for what they did for me and was determined to do something similar for kids with the same challenge," he said.

Thanks to his language skills, Samee landed a job at the multicultural ethnic-link teen center, organizing educational and social events to help people from different cultural backgrounds integrate into the society.

"Lending a helping hand always makes me happy. My parents are also very proud of me," he said.

Samee came to Hong Kong at the age of one together with his father, who made a living in the logistics industry in Hong Kong before turning to become a security guard. Samee's grandfather also worked in logistics in Hong Kong.

"Before Hong Kong's return to the motherland, many foreigners such as the Pakistanis and Indians came here working in the disciplinary forces or in the logistic industry," he said.

"But now, their jobs vary and could span across many different sectors," he said.

Whatever their occupation and cultural background, people in Hong Kong share the same qualities of caring and hard-working, Samee said.

The latest census data showed that the number of non-Chinese in Hong Kong accounted for 8.4 percent of the total population in 2021, an increase of 0.4 percentage point from that in 2016.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has been stepping up efforts to boost social integration, partnering with non-profit institutions to offer the ethnic minorities support in education, employment and equal opportunities.


For Marites Mata, opportunity is exactly what attracted her to Hong Kong 25 years ago.

After graduating from college, Mata followed a path that many Filipinos choose: to work in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic helper.

The reason is realistic and compelling: in Hong Kong she would earn a better paycheck to support her family back home.

A bread earner for her family, Mata managed to purchase a house in the Philippines using her savings and supported the education of her son.

"Sometimes I feel I am a strong woman. I am very proud of my job," she said.

Mata said she felt grateful as her employer respected her and treated her like a family member. On her 49th birthday this June, the family bought her a big cake to celebrate.

Mata, meanwhile, also enjoys Hong Kong for its beautiful scenery and modern infrastructure. She visited the Ocean Park, went hiking with friends, and enjoyed singing and dancing in the parks on Sundays.

In Hong Kong, there are more than 300,000 foreign domestic helpers, most of whom are Filipinos and Indonesians. Hong Kong offered them the chance to earn a better living, while their hard work enabled Hong Kongers to explore more career opportunities.

To protect the rights and interests of the foreign domestic helpers, the HKSAR government has been improving labor legislation, adjusting up the minimum wage standard, and making sure that the helpers enjoy free accommodation, free food and free medical care from employers.


When asked about the most attractive thing in Hong Kong, Amakiri Jefferson from Nigeria did not hesitate to pop up a word: safety.

Dressed in a light gray suit, wearing rimless glasses, Jefferson sat in an office in Tsim Sha Tsui, negotiating orders with African customers.

"Africans love Chinese goods, which are cheap and nice," Jefferson said. He started a logistics company 19 years ago to ship garments from China to Africa.

With trade between China and Africa increased over the years, Jefferson's logistics business has expanded to export a variety of goods including shoes and mobile phones.

In Jefferson's view, safety is the premise of his business, and everything.

"If there is no security, there is no nightlife in Hong Kong, and economic development is even more impossible," Jefferson said.

Since the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong, social stability has been restored. For Jefferson and many of his business partners, this means a safer and more predictable business environment.

In his spare time, Jefferson likes to go to Lan Kwai Fong for a drink with his friends and play football with local people. He hopes that after the pandemic, he could organize a football match with the local community.

"Hong Kong is my home. I believe in the government and what they do is the best for the people," he said.

John Lee, the newly appointed sixth-term chief executive of the HKSAR, has envisioned Hong Kong to become a place characterized by an abundance of vitality, opportunity, hope and caring in the next five years.

"I believe that with joint efforts, we can make Hong Kong, 'the Pearl of the East,' shine brighter," Lee said.