Hong Kong trustees, higher sense of responsibility

By Yu Nan (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2007-06-18 17:26

Famed Hong Kong economist Liang Xianping claimed that Hong Kong "trustees" have a higher sense of responsibility than employees in China.

Lang, who was born in Taiwan, and studied in America and works in Hong Kong, is a well-known professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and enjoys calling himself a Hong Kong native.

He said during an interview with the Beijing Times recently that Hong Kong's economic prosperity is one advantage of the long-standing "trustee" attitude of its workers.

Lang Xianping.[File Photo]
"It is rare to see employees complain due to working overtime, even though it may be as late as 11 p.m., because they have put trust in their job and company," Lang said. "In other words, that's a kind of trustee responsibility."

Employee diligence, efficiency, work ethic, and trustworthiness are key to the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, Lang said. "Since China resumed the exercising of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the natives experience physiological struggle with apprehension and are even excluded from the mainland," he said.

On the mainland, staff members typically have little faith in their bosses, a trend which can take time to change, Lang said.

He shared an anecdote: an entrepreneur who'd invested in businesses on the mainland found that his Chinese employees would often resign after only a couple of years, to start new businesses with each other, mirroring those they were leaving.

However, Hong Kong residents have the mindset that so long as they are diligent, they can obtain promotions and bonuses, the professor said.

He suggested both state-owned and private enterprises on the mainland should seek ways to build up the same sense of responsibility among employees as exists in Hong Kong.

Listed companies in Hong Kong work under a multi-dimensional supervision system, with oversight coming from the Securities Regulatory Commission, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Hong Kong stock exchanges, and the Economic Crime Bureau. The oversight system, coupled with Hong Kong's solid legal system, serves to protect the interests of stockholders, Lang said.

Lang did admit that competition between Hong Kong and the mainland is becoming "increasingly furious," with the rise of the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

But Hong Kong remains the top Asian and global financial centre, paralleling London and New York. It has increased business opportunities and maintained a remarkable degree of governmental independence.

"But I have to say that recent Chinese economic performance makes for great pressure on Hong Kong, which is as well facing stiff competition from southeast Asian countries like Tokyo and Singapore, both of which, being cleaner and greener than Hong Kong, are also culturally richer, " Lang said.

The rapid growth of China and the stance of Chinese policies toward Hong Kong have actually increased the investment opportunities since it returned to the motherland.

"We are so geographically and physically integrated with China that we can't but help being influenced," and the trend is evidenced by the fact that many Hong Kong citizens are learning Putonghua, as the city's main languages used to be English and Cantonese.

At any rate, the future of Hong Kong is linked to that of the mainland, Lang said.

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