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Hong Kong's good life losing its appeal
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-29 06:38

GUANGZHOU: A saying from the 1980s suggests people would "rather have a small bed in Hong Kong than a big room in Guangzhou."

That saying reflected the wide economic gap between the two places at that time.

Yang Shenwen used to be one of the many Guangzhou women who always wanted to move to Hong Kong.

And Hong Kong men were once Yang's first choice of husband.

"I really envied those who could marry Hong Kong residents at that time," Yang said.

"Because they could bring home colour TV sets, household appliances, cassette recorders and second-hand clothes," Yang told China Daily.

She never expected that she would carry on living in Guangdong's provincial capital when she married her Hong Kong husband 15 years ago.

Yang lives a happy life with her two children and husband, Nelson Leung, despite the fact she is now allowed to live in Hong Kong.

Yang, 38, a white-collar worker, is now living in a 150-square-metre apartment in one of Guangzhou's prime areas while her Hong Kong home is only about 60 square metres.

Leung usually arrives in Guangzhou empty-handed when he comes back from Hong Kong, but he returns with many gifts for his relatives and friends.

"Almost everything available in Hong Kong is also available in Guangzhou, and products here are cheaper and better," Yang said.

She has become one of the increasing number of Guangzhou residents who continue to live in the city after they marry Hong Kong residents.

Yang said many of her friends and colleagues who have married Hong Kong residents also refuse to move to Hong Kong, or they return to Guangzhou after they spent just a few months in the special administrative region.

According to statistics from the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs, only about one-third of Guangzhou residents move to Hong Kong after marrying Hong Kong residents.

And the number of Guangzhou residents who want to marry Hong Kong residents has also fallen in recent years.

In the late 1980s, more than 2,000 Guangzhou residents married Hong Kong compatriots every year, but that figure has fallen to less than 300 since 2000.

Last year, only 190 Guangzhou residents registered their weddings to Hong Kong people.

In the whole of Guangdong Province, more than 10,000 people married Hong Kong residents each year during the peak period in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But the southern Chinese province that borders Hong Kong and Macao recorded less than 2,600 Guangdong-Hong Kong marriages last year.

And the trend is continuing its downward direction, according to Chen Wanling, an official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs yesterday.

(China Daily 04/29/2005 page3)

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