China City Profile -
How do people in the city’s communities interact with each other based on the circumstances of their city?
- What are defining factors that make the city's communities act this way?
- How does this affect the city’s reputation?
- Are there any ways to change how people interact positively in order to make the city more liveable and loveable?
Background and Overview
Hong Kong has always been known for its bustling crowds, traffic jams and skyscrapers, the way its economy has greatly helped China as well and vice versa. HongKong, as a city, seems to have a good relationship with the world in terms of business, but as a community, as we as close as we seem to be? As a person who has lived in Hong Kong my whole life, I love the city itself, but I can't say much about my neighbours - it's not as if every Hong Konger dislikes each other, but it's almost common knowledge for residents living in the same apartment block or even floor to not know each other at all.
Hong Kong is a booming and incredibly populated city with 6,690 people per square kilometre (Recorded in mid-2014) on average. The solution was to build high-rise living quarters in order to fit so many people in the small city of 1,104 kilometres square. With so many people in such small spaces, it's a wonder that we have almost no interaction with those living all around us.
Almost all of Hong Kong's housing is a private, gated apartment complex or houses, but even then these houses are in private properties with other houses with main gates and security guards. Instead of using these opportunities for a thriving community, residents shut out each other and continue life in their own worlds. When you get in an elevator, there is no conversation - even if there are words exchanged, it's barely a hello.
Recently the Umbrella Movement had taken Hong Kong by storm and pulled those who were on the same side closer together. Despite this, Hong Kong as a whole is torn apart between supporters of the movement and those against it. This, however, gives the outside world a different image of Hong Kong as a whole community. The media chooses to highlight the closeness of the protestors, giving the impression that all of Hong Kong is a tight and supportive community, but sometimes it really isn't.
For this investigation I interviewed my mother (who has lived in Hong Kong her whole life) and asked her to give some comments on how she thinks the interactions of Hong Kongers with each other are and essentially give some insight to how Hong Kong, as a community, has changed.
Question: What do you think of communities in Hong Kong?
Answer: I think that the relationship between neighbours and coworkers are much better in older age groups, for example the ones that are above 40 years old, since the older generation had to help each other to cope with the harsher times before Hong Kong was as prosperous as it is now. Today the younger generations are less concerned with being in communities and are more involved with being invested with Western concepts such as "living for themselves" and individualism. This is probably because there are less and less children born in one family, and the fact that they're getting richer as well, that the child is more likely to be self centred, as they are well protected by their parents and makes them less aware of those around them.
Question: So is individualism bad?
Answer: No, not necessarily. But in Chinese culture, individualism alone is not the best and it's also Chinese culture that encourages us to have good relationships with people around us as well as relatives. Living solely by individualism is seen negatively and makes communities imbalanced. Being balanced is important as human beings are 群居動物 (beings that depend on one another).
I sent out a survey to people in our year consisting of the question "do you ever speak to your neighbours" and then asking for reasons why people did and didn't speak to their neighbours. Here is a pie chart of the 24 people who answered yes and no to the question.
This shows that a lot of the people in our year seem to hold more regard to making conversation despite the two-people difference between the choices of yes and no. Most of the answers for not saying hello to neighbours were simply because "I had no reason to." or "I never see them." One even said that it was simply because neighbours not speaking to one another was "a Hong Kong thing." However, a majority of the people who said that they did communicated and interact with the people around them said that it was because of their parents either being friends with them or that their parents expected them to.
Explanation and Analysis
Communities in Hong kong should be something citizens actively participate in, bonding and forming relationships with those who live close to us as well as the company of those who people may come across during their day. It would definitely make Hong Kong a more loveable place despite it being one of the top liveable cities in 2012. As of 2015, though, Hong Kong has dropped to #33 out of 450 cities, when it was #17 last year.
Looking into the future
In the future, Hong Kongers should try to form good relationships with those around them - from my survey it seems as though we are getting there. It's not for work, but for leisure and sometime even a mood lifter, and it would definitely beat down Hong Kong's icy-looking skyscrapers. It's a good practice, though, despite it being time consuming - it's nice to know the people who live with you and come across you daily, definitely making a more loveable community that is Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong: Population." (2015): n. pag. GovHK. Information Services Department (HK), Apr. 2015. Web. 3 May 2015. <www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/population.pdf>.
figure 1. Taken by myself.