OR TREAT: Hong Kong Style
friend Anne described to me the cultural shock felt in her first year of living
in Hong Kong, nineteen years ago. Determined that her young son Teddy
should celebrate Halloween as he would in North America, she searched high and
low until she located the supermarket at The Peak that had imported pumpkins.
When she arrived to pickup her order of the valued commodity, she found the
pumpkin chopped into smaller pieces!! The well-meaning shopkeeper had
broken the pumpkin into smaller units to enable Anne a taste of the expensive
import - so she would not have to spend so much money for the whole
pumpkin, in case she might not like it.
treat real estate as a commodity.
the North American approach to asset management and long term investment, Asians
were the first to bring the condominium lifestyle and concept of pre-sales off
floor plans to North America in the late '70's.
Here's another one. In my profession as real estate funds manager, New
York and Hong Kong are two cities where two-level apartments are referred to as
duplex. In most other markets in North America, duplex refers to two
elements - side by side, and/or up and down.
Semantics are even more complex when
values exist in different
The above are stories to illustrate that communications and values need to be
clarified at the outset "Do
I hear you correctly?"
is an exercise fundamental to doing business anywhere in the world.
Internet technology is extremely helpful to accomplish this.
It has already become fashionable to be in involved with business in the Pacific
Rim. It is becoming necessary in today's global economy to understand the
psyche of the Asian business person. If not to join them, then to be
dligent as the wise sage Tsun-tzu taught, to study the enemy. Westerners
should not expect trust from their Asian counterparts. This privilege is
reserved for a select few who have demonstrated consistent loyalty and results.
The gesture is returned once trust has been established and oftentime the favour
is returned with more than a few words of thanks.
The Asian meltdown of capital markets that emerged in the last quarter of 1997
demonstrated the inter- relationships of global markets and its effect on
people's everyday lives. Protectionism that was perceived as evil can now
be viewed as different terms of cultural differences, not barriers. As in
the Chinese dialects, one word can have several meanings.
- by ANDREA ENG
This entry is for my dear friend
Rebecca and is a discussion about the cultural differences between East
and West. Not just in business etiquette but also logic and
This is why we still keep talking
about 'Cultural Bridge'.
This is a theme Vancouver-ites can discuss with authority. Since
1966, Canada has been receiving educated Chinese immigrants from the rest
of the world.
Besides being the largest Chinese
community outside of Asia, Vancouver
now have a generation of well-to-do Hong
Kong-ers who emigrated and
retired to the city after Expo '86 or thereabouts. When Li
Ka-Shing's team redeveloped one-sixth of Downtown Vancouver and sold many units
as recreation homes. The
city experienced first hand the stumbling blocks with mainstream west
including oftentimes discrimination because we are ethnic minority in the West.
But we are the first also to navigate or provide solutions. In
business, if we are to stay in the game at a world class level, there is no
margin for error. Western professionals (some of whom are
Asian) just don't get that. Its about Values.
In a recent issue of FORBES
just one Asian was awarded title as a "maverick". The real
issue is what is definition of a maverick??
That's why need Cultural
Bridge Brokers like us.
We speak West's vocabulary but we understand the headset of Asian society and
the hierarchy that accompanies. The difference is Values.
The western publishers at FORBES
intended the title 'maverick' as being exemplary that's why it was an award.
The West respect individuality. However that did not translate when we
read about the item in Asia.
The East values homogeneous society. They instead created doubt as
to the worthiness of that designation.
Same situation, different viewpoint.
From Oxford St in London to Robson St in Vancouver, Madison Avenue in NYC,
Orchard Road in Singapore or Central in Hong Kong, the issues we all face is
still the same. Indeed, Who
are Real Chinese?!
Read about this
fellow who still has a Mom!
Chinese around the world still face similar issues related to our cultural