Blog Entries

Hong Kong!

From the series Cities of China


The city of Hong Kong has a special place in the hearts of quite a few of us on the ChinaSource team. Our longest-serving team member, Emerald, is a “Hong Konger,” and our newest, Eunice, also has her roots in Hong Kong. Glenn and Narci Herr served there for just over thirty years. ChinaSource President Kerry Schottelkorb served in Hong Kong for ten years, as did our founder Brent Fulton.

While I never resided in the city, it has a special place in my heart as well. My first taste of China and Chinese culture came while doing a summer internship in Hong Kong in 1979. I did a quick tour into China that summer and “got the China bug,” as they say. Subsequently, during the many years I was in China, I visited the city once or twice per year and grew to love it.

I was working in Changchun at the time of the “handover” (July 1, 1997), when Hong Kong sovereignty was transferred from Great Britain to the People’s Republic of China. An American student at the language school I was director of had plans to fly to Hong Kong the last week of June and return the first week of July. Because going from China to Hong Kong meant crossing an international border, we wondered if that would still be the case after July 1. After all, we had endured a full year of incessant government messaging that after July 1, Hong Kong would—after a century of humiliation—once again be a part of China. Would this new era of “one country, two systems” mean he needed a visa to return to China after July 1? Note that this was back in the day when even work visas were single-entry; every time we left the country, we had to get a re-entry visa before leaving.

I took the question to Mr. Y, the head of the foreign student office at the university. He chuckled and said he didn’t know. He promptly called his buddy at the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) office that handled visas. The conversation went something like this:

Mr. Y: One of our foreign students is going to Hong Kong next week and will return after the handover. Will he still need a visa to return?

PSB Official: Yes.

Me (to Mr. Y): But Hong Kong will be a part of China then.

Mr. Y (to PSB Official): But Hong Kong will be a part of China then.

PSB Official (after a long pause and then a chuckle on both ends): Yes, but he will still need a visa!

We all had a good chuckle, and Mr. Y took the student’s passport to his PSB buddy for a visa.

By almost any measure, Hong Kong is a fabulous city. Here is a great time-lapse video that captures its beauty and energy. It’s titled Hong Kong Tourlapse.

And if you’re interested in seeing the city from the vantage point of a bird, this 33-minute drone flyover is fascinating as well.

For many of our readers, these videos will make you homesick. To others, it will make you want to jump on a plane and go! Unfortunately, that is difficult right now; but we look forward to the day when we can head back.

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio


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