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TOTAL LICENSING
secured capital and restraint, don’t expect an immigrant’s patriotism large quantities of merchandise from Far East-
decided to become an from him and his class! He has his passport and ern countries.
independent business his reserves.
man. While he cer- By his life’s choice he has became a transient Hong Kong is full of buying offices from such
tainly operated with and at least in this generation, he and his kin major retail giants like Target or Wal-Mart, the
and around the British understand their position. Even with the mix- German Metro, the English Sainsbury’s or the
colonial administra- ing of cultures that does go on everyone has French Carrefour.
tion and the British or settled for making money – that is the common There are also the many manufacturers who
Chinese “old money denominator. produce through contractors in the Far East.
upper class”, he is not
a part of it. A SET OF QUESTIONS: A sourcer is in demand. He can practically
choose his job if he has sufficient experience.
He probably married a local, has raised children
THE OLD AND THE NEW IN HONG
He supervises production, controls quality, in-
and he’s now a middle-aged or older member
KONG?
spects factory’s output and negotiates for his
of the upper middle class. His children have principals the best prices and changes suppliers
certainly gone to elite Hong Kong schools and
Colonial legacies (An excerpt from a column
as needed.
they probably speak, read and write Cantonese
written by a Baptist University Academic and
He must always be on the go and must be per-
much better than their parent.
veteran journalist who reflects on the change,
petually watchful.
or lack of change, that time has brought.)
Only if the children had the misfortune to have
How peculiar it is that eleven years after the
He must have friendships in the supplying coun-
been sent to a boarding school in the ex pat’s
handover, Hong Kong still uses the phrase
tries which can be Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan,
home country, they might be a bit like fish out
“Colonial legacy” when they describe the
Vietnam and certainly most of all, China.
of the water and might be more confined to the
Police Bagpipe Band when they discuss the
ex pat’s clubs, organizations or enclaves – unless
Jockey Club which in most places outside the
He generally lives in his territory but escorts
they have acclimated rapidly upon return.
British Isles is really only an ordinary business
big shots from the parent company when they
rather than an aristocratic leisure pursuit.
visit and introduces them locally. He also acts
Of course we have here omitted a small group as their advisor, arranger of entertainment and
of teachers, journalists, professors, educators
We have the quaint working costumes of our
tourist guide.
and artists and intellectuals – but most of these
lawyers and yet the final appeal judges don’t
in the intervening time have retired to home
wear wigs.
His local contacts enable him to switch suppli-
and have been replaced by highly educated Chi- ers as needed and he can certainly utilize some
nese (mostly from Hong Kong).
Why do office workers get more public
favoritism on a case to case basis. He will usu-
holidays than factory workers? The extra
ally earn from $50,000 to $80,000 in salary but
Our ex pat businessman is certainly numerically
ordinarily high salaries and long holidays of
he will probably get a 4 to 6% commission on
a large group because (to paraphrase): “The
senior civil servants may be left over from
the large purchasing quantities that his corpora-
business of Hong Kong is business!”
the times of colonial mandarins but they are
tion pays for. His travel, expenses, and necessary
certainly today out of style because there are
entertainment are paid for by his employer. He
Our businessman has invested his money in fa-
very few ex-pats left in the Civil Service.
also might possibly receive 2-3% buying com-
cilities some of which may be in mainland China mission from his favorite suppliers and adding all
or, with rising costs, elsewhere in the Far East.
I don’t also don’t understand why there still
this together his income is substantial.
He employs local people, reasonably inexpen-
is an “English Schools Foundation”. When top
sively, and possibly local experts or managers
colonial decision makers sent their children
He may have purchased a house or residence
who might earn almost $100,000 per year be-
to public schools in England, this made sense.
or condo in his chosen foreign location and
cause their loyalty and incorruptibility is essen-
It now makes no sense however when local
considering that his living costs are probably
tial. These people, both male and by now fe-
parents would like to use this system but
between 20 and 30% of comparative costs in
male, are needed for success and are members
accuse the “English Schools Foundation” of
the West, he is a substantial citizen.
of an educated Chinese (Hong Kong) bi-lingual
discrimination against Cantonese speakers.

middle class.
Not being able to speak Cantonese.
He may easily have married one of his girlfri-
is a serious social disadvantage and the ESF
ends, met while in a foreign station.
Our ex pat businessman pays local taxes so he
should encourage their students to speak

is definitely interested in local issues, the main-
Cantonese.
His wife may help or may have her own career,
tenance of law and order, police and schools or finally may be responsible only for the educa-
– but national politics is outside his ken and in WHAT IS A SOURCER? tion of his children and the supervision of the
some way he is always prepared to pull up his household which certainly includes local help.
stakes. A new profession has risen in the last 20-30
years during the increasing transfer of manufac- Mostly he will be politically disinterested. His
The Hong Kong Internal Revenue examines his turing to third world countries. goal is to make money – enough money to be-
books regularly so profits have to be made, if come wealthy and then possibly later return to
possible, outside the country. Some of his funds A sourcer is a Western specialist who may have his original native country for retirement.
are safely overseas and he has to keep a sharp lived in Asia, for instance, for some 15-25 years,
weather eye out for trouble. His children have probably speaks at least four Asian languages Now we must turn to the large Hong Kong
often visited overseas relatives and so while ev- and must also have lived in Europe or at least underclass, if we wish to call it that in this con-
eryone is comfortable and happy at the moment, spent a great deal of time in Europe so that he text. If we, however, compare them with their
and their original fears of the 1997 takeover can work with either American corporations or Chinese cousins across the border, we see that
have been allayed by the Chinese government’s European corporations interested in ordering they are not really an underclass - if we mea-
176
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