Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and — in spite of all those buildings — easy access to incredible stretches of great outdoors.
It’s been more than 15 years since the British handed Hong Kong over to Chinese rule but little has changed.
Hong Kong remains a competitive and independent city, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best places to live.
But don’t take our word for it.
Here are 10 things this great city does better than anywhere else.
1. Tonal talents
Native English speakers who’ve managed to learn Cantonese from scratch: give yourselves a pat on the back.
The language has a total of six to nine tones, depending on where you’re hearing it, compared to English’s zero tones.
No other Asian language comes close. (There are four tones in Mandarin, five in Thai and six in Vietnamese).
That’s kind of like saying one English word can be pronounced six different ways and have at least six different meanings.
Locals like to say this makes us particularly good at music (certain karaoke sessions have proven otherwise) and studies have shown there’s some truth to this.
To add to the complexity — and fun — of the language, Cantonese is a dialect with new slang invented everyday and many words aren’t used in written communication.
Check out Carlos Douh’s YouTube channel, the Internet’s most entertaining Cantonese language teacher, for quick and easy Cantonese lessons.
2. Staying alive
Don’t wanna get murdered?
Come to Hong Kong!
The city not only has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it ranks third in a list compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2011 of places with the least homicides.
Hong Kong — with an intentional homicide rate of 0.2 per 100,000 people in the last 16 years — only lost out to Monaco and Palau, where there have been zero recorded murders.
When you consider that Hong Kong has a population of more than 7 million crammed into a city of 1,104 square kilometers, while Monaco only has about 36,000 people and idyllic island nation Palau about 20,000, Hong Kong definitely triumphs as the safest city in the world.
3. Getting you there
Hong Kong is really good at getting you where you need to go.
The public transportation system is famous around the world for its efficiency and profitability, making Hong Kong one of the least car-dependent cities, with only about 710,000 registered vehicles.
In particular, the MTR Corporation that operates Hong Kong’s subway system is so good at what they do they run other city’s trains as well, including operating sections of subway lines in Beijing, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, London and the whole of Melbourne and Stockholm’s underground networks.
4. Building into the sky
When you’ve got a heck of a lot of people and very little land, what do you do?
Hong Kong’s solution is to stack them up on top of each other, inside tall buildings.
Once the city started doing it, it couldn’t stop.
Hong Kong now has 1,251 skyscrapers and high-rises, the most in the world, creating a dramatic skyline.
There’s the bamboo-like Bank of China by renowned architect I.M. Pei and the 490-meter International Commerce Centre (Hong Kong’s tallest), the latter of which will become a gigantic art piece at the hands of sound artist Carsten Nicolai during Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.
5. Daredevil construction
Most of those skyscrapers were built using bamboo scaffolding, an old craft that involves tying long pieces of sturdy bamboo together to form a freestanding grid structure for workmen to hang out on.
Daredevil scaffolders dangling precariously on bits of bamboo suspended in midair, with a small harness for support, are a common and heart-stopping sight in Hong Kong’s streets.
While most other cities are using steel and aluminium scaffolding, Hong Kong stands by bamboo, even establishing a licensing system through the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council.
There are now more than 1,700 bamboo scaffolders registered with the Construction Workers Registration Board.
6. Letting you keep your money
As a financial center that’s historically been seen as the gateway to the Chinese market, Hong Kong is a great place to make money.
What truly sets it apart is that residents actually get to keep most of the money they earn.
With one of the lowest salaries tax rates in the world, capped at 15-17% and no sales tax or VAT, Hong Kong is an attractive place to work and play.
The profits tax rate is the same for foreign and local companies at a low 16.5% and there’s no capital gains tax in Hong Kong.
That doesn’t make the local government a charity case though.
Property and shares trade keep the government flush — Financial Secretary John Tsang estimates an HK$12 billion surplus for this year.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the salaries tax rate. The error has been corrected.
7. Kung fu movies
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Maggie Cheung, John Woo, Wong Kar-wai … the list of Hong Kong’s cinematic heavy hitters goes on.
For a relatively small city (population 7 million) tucked away in a far corner of East Asia, Hong Kong sure has produced a lot of Hollywood-worthy stars.
But it’s the city’s kung fu movies that are the most recognized.
“Enter the Dragon,” “Fist of Fury,” “Once Upon a Time in China,” and “Drunken Master” are just a few of the classics that come to mind.
Much of the city’s cinematic martial arts glory is due to the efforts of one legendary movie mogul: Sir Run Run Shaw, who passed away at the age of 107 in January.
Shaw put Hong Kong movies on the map by inventing and popularizing kung fu genre films in the 1970s and pushing co-productions such as “Blade Runner.”
Despite all that clout Shaw never got to work with Bruce Lee, as the kung fu superstar was offered a better deal by rival Golden Harvest early in his career.
8. Soft landings
One of the most impressive sites for Hong Kong visitors is the airport.
Most love the efficiency, the fast connection to the city through the Airport Express, and the frequent traveler system that allows jet setters to use a fast lane through immigration.
The airport is one of the most lauded in the world, winning nearly 40 awards from international operations since it opened in 1998 and ranking atop Skytrax’s World’s Best Airport list for eight years in a row.
Sure, it’s recently been toppled from the throne by Singapore’s Changi Airport.
But Hong Kong handles more passenger traffic, 53 million passengers in 2011.
Take that, Singapore.
Hong Kong: 7 million people, 15,000 restaurants.
This is a city of unashamedly camera-toting, food-blogging, lip-smacking gourmands.
And while we don’t have the restaurant density of New York City, our diversity is staggering.
Foodies here will have lunch at a three Michelin star restaurant and dinner at a street-side dai pai dong hawker stall.
Our cha chaan teng diners can whip up fantastical East-meets-West dishes, considered sacrilegious anywhere else in the world — ever tried a syrup-slathered French toast filled with satay beef slices?
Or instant noodles dressed in a cheese sauce?
No? You haven’t lived.
Take it from this city of people who are very good at eating.
10. Partying so hard the neighbors want in on it
First time visitors to Hong Kong’s party area, Lan Kwai Fong, might think they’ve entered a time warp, suddenly appearing in Ibiza or Cancun at 9 p.m. on a Friday night.
The area crams more than 100 bars, restaurants, clubs and shops into just a few short streets (and in the high-rises along the streets), which themselves are nearly always crammed with expats, flight attendants and other 9-to-5 refugees.
Neon lights blur into happy hour signs, which blur into fridges filled with garishly colored vodka jelly shots.
Come special events, such as the Rugby Sevens or New Year’s Eve, the area gets ridiculously, lung-crushingly crowded.
Lankwaifong.com claims it’s “Hong Kong’s premiere dining and entertainment destination,” which makes it sound somewhat more sophisticated than it really is.
But for turning a rubbish Tuesday workday into a heady, beery, feels-like-Friday evening, where you’re guaranteed to meet someone you know, there’s no place like it.
It’s so successful that Chinese cities are asking Lan Kwai Fong Group to re-create the nightlife districts in their cities, namely Lan Kwai Fong Chengdu and Lan Kwai Fong Wuxi.
TODAY’S TOP TECH NEWS, NOV 29: EX-LAZADA EXECUTIVES’ STARTUP EASYSHIP RAISES US$4M
Easyship’s platform plugin and integrations enable stores to print labels, automate international paperwork, and display real-time courier rates
Hong Kong-based Easyship raises US$4M Series A [press release]
Easyship, a shipping platform for active SMBs to simplify and automate logistics, announced today it has raised a US$4 million in Series A round of funding from a slew of investors, including Maximilian Bittner, ex-CEO & Founder of Lazada and Senior Advisor of Alibaba Group; and Richard Lepeu, ex-CEO of global luxury giant Richemont and board member of Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.
Existing investors Lamivoie Capital Partners and Richard Lepeu, as well as Rubicon Venture Capital, One Way Ventures, Kima Ventures and Picus Capital, have also co-invested.
The startup was founded in 2015 by Tommaso Tamburnotti and Augustin Ceyrac (both formerly worked at Lazada), and Paul Lugagne Delpon. Easyship’s cloud-based platform helps e-commerce merchants ship worldwide. Its platform plugin and integrations enable stores to print labels, automate international paperwork, display real-time courier rates, and offer their customers dynamic tax and duties at checkout.
The startup has offices in New York, Singapore, Netherlands, Australia, and Hong Kong.
Singapore’s GIC backs EV charging network ChargePoint’s US$240M funding [DealStreetAsia]
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has joined a group of investors backing the US$240 million Series H funding in ChargePoint, a California-headquartered electric vehicle charging network, according to an announcement.
ChargePoint claims to have more than 57,000 independently owned public and semi-public charging spots and thousands of customers.
Other investors in the round include American Electric Power, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Chevron Technology Ventures, Clearvision and Daimler Truck & Buses. Quantum Energy Partners was the lead investor.
Korea’s blockchain casino project MECA Casino raises investment from ICON [press release]
South Korea-based blockchain project ICON has made a strategic investment in MECA Casino, a blockchain casino project.
MECA Casino is a DApp (Decentralised Application) of ICON and it is a reverse ICO project by Crypto Meca. MECA Casino has been developing casino games for more than three years and is ready to launch blackjack and baccarat table games. MECA Casino plans to open ‘the largest decentralised casino platform’ including sports betting solution by Q4 of 2019.
‘Master System’ of MECA Casino enables users to become ‘master’ who is an operator of casinos to be profitable from casino operation. ‘Masters’ can upgrade their casinos to attract more players, gain higher profits, and trade casinos with other potential Masters. Players can exchange MECA Coin (MCA) with MECA Chip (MCC) to play games in MECA Casino or trade casinos.
Revolut is ready to launch in Singapore and Japan [TechCrunch]
Fintech startup Revolut has been teasing Asian market expansions for more than a year, but it sounds like it might finally happen. The company has secured licenses to operate in Singapore and Japan. It now expects to launch its service in Q1 2019.
In Singapore, the company was granted a Remittance License by the Monetary Authority and a Stored Value Facility approval — these two things combined let Revolut users hold money as well as send and spend money. In Japan, the company has been authorised to operate by Japan’s Finance Service Agency. __ yahoo news
MICROSOFT WINS US$480MIL ARMY BATTLEFIELD CONTRACT
Microsoft Corp has won a US$480mil (RM2.01bil) contract to supply prototypes for augmented reality systems to the Army for use on combat missions and in training, the Army said.
The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”, according to a government description of the programme.
“Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defence to this new area,” a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The US Army and the Israeli military have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens devices in training, but plans for live combat would be a significant step forward.
HoloLens is one of the leading consumer-grade headsets, but a large consumer market doesn’t yet exist; a video made for the European Patent Office this spring said it had sold about 50,000 devices. That’s about half the number the Army expects to buy through its augmented reality programme, which is called the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.
With the contract, the Army immediately becomes one of Microsoft’s most important HoloLens consumers. It expects devices to vary from their consumer-grade counterparts in a handful of key respects. In a document shared with companies bidding on the contract, the Army said it wanted to incorporate night vision and thermal sensing, measure vital signs like breathing and “readiness”, monitor for concussions and offer hearing protection. It said the winning bidder would be expected to deliver 2,500 headsets within two years, and exhibit the capacity for full-scale production.
The contract went though a bidding process designed to encourage the Army to do business with companies who aren’t traditional defence contractors. Magic Leap, which makes the main competitor to HoloLens for the consumer market, also pursued the contract. In early August, the Army held meetings with 25 companies interested in participating in some way, including Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp, and Raytheon Co. The technology industry’s cooperation with the US military and law enforcement has become increasingly tense over the last year, with employees at companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc pushing back against government contracts.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Microsoft workers signed a petition criticising a contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Microsoft had originally said included some of its AI software. In October, a blog post purportedly written by Microsoft employees urged the company not to bid on a multi-billion dollar US military cloud contract.
“Many Microsoft employees don’t believe that what we build should be used for waging war,” they wrote.
Later that month, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, said the company would continue to sell software to the US military. Smith wrote that employees with ethical qualms with projects would be allowed to move to other work within the company.
“Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other technologies are raising new and profoundly important issues, including the ability of weapons to act autonomously. As we have discussed these issues with governments, we’ve appreciated that no military in the world wants to wake up to discover that machines have started a war,” he wrote.
But we can’t expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation.” – Bloomberg
TRUATA WINS PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL PRIVACY INNOVATION AWARD
Truata, the Dublin based data anonymisation and analytics company, has today been awarded the 2018 HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Conference in Brussels.
Truata was founded in early 2018 by Mastercard and IBM to deliver next-generation data protection and analytics to the marketplace. In awarding Truata with this honour, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has recognised the service that Truata offers to companies who want to continue to leverage their data to innovate and grow while respecting and safeguarding the privacy of their customers.
The Truata Anonymisation Solution is designed to deliver actionable insights to its customers who operate in multiple industries including financial services, telecommunications, hospitality, retail and travel. Truata independently anonymises a customer’s data, giving that customer the freedom to carry out analysis while protecting people’s personal data. Running on the IBM Cloud, the Truata solution is specifically designed to fully meet the high regulatory thresholds for anonymisation as the original source data and the anonymised data will not at any time co-exist in one organisation. This ensures that analytics can be conducted across a customer’s entire data set while only analysing the fully-anonymised versions of that data.
Based on the principle of privacy by design, and using the latest data privacy technologies developed by IBM Research, the Truata Anonymisation Solution benefits from innovative technological, structural, legal and organisational safeguards. It enables companies to both maximise their data analytics utility and minimise their risk of non-compliance with privacy regulations.
On receiving the award, Aoife Sexton, Truata Chief Privacy Officer said, “The changing regulatory environment is bringing about a real challenge for companies to understand how they can use data to foster innovation but do so in a legally compliant and ethical manner. We have developed a solution that addresses this challenge by allowing companies to continue to use their data for analytics – but in a responsible way that is compliant with the GDPR, respecting both the letter and the spirit of the regulation. We are grateful to the IAPP for recognising this new innovative solution.”
Felix Marx, CEO of Truata, added, “Post GDPR, companies still need to generate value and insights from their data through analytics if they want to innovate and provide their customers the services and products they want. The optimal way to do this, while respecting your customers’ privacy rights, is to have your data anonymised by an independent third party as part of an end-to-end service including world class analytics. Truata is the first to market with this solution.”
“In today’s global digital economy, organisations will play a critical role in furthering innovation and convenience, while handling data responsibly and ethically,” said JoAnn Stonier, chief data officer for Mastercard and Truata board member. “At Mastercard, we saw the GDPR as an opportunity to enhance our data practices and—with Truata —help other businesses do the same. This award from IAPP is a terrific honour and validation of the importance of finding a path that enables both data innovation and stringent privacy protections.”
Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and issued by the IAPP, the world’s largest information privacy community and resource with more than 32,000 members in over 100 countries, the much coveted Innovation Award recognises unique programmes and services in global privacy and data protection across both private and public sectors.
“The 2018 HPE-IAPP Privacy Innovation Award is presented to Truata, an exemplar safeguarding tool built on the principle of privacy by design. This award spotlights unique programs and services in global privacy and data protection; we are honouring Truata for practising fine innovation,” said IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes.