Google da un portazo a China

Below is an article published by El.Pais about Google moving its China search function to Hong Kong. From the article you can see the relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Cumpliendo su promesa de acabar con la censura impuesta por Pekín a su buscador, Google desmanteló ayer su portal en China y redirigió las búsquedas a su página radicada en Hong Kong. Después de más de dos meses de negociación con el régimen chino, los directivos de la empresa en California han decidido que es imposible mantener una presencia online en aquel país y han optado por ofrecer una versión en chino de su buscador genérico, sin los filtros ni la censura que aplicaron a Google.cn desde su lanzamiento en 2006. Para ello han decidido someterse la legislación de Hong Kong, una región autónoma dentro de China desde 1997, que ofrece a sus ciudadanos una libertad mucho mayor en Internet.

“Queremos que la mayor cantidad posible de gente tenga acceso a nuestros servicios, incluidos los usuarios de China. Pero el Gobierno chino ha dejado muy claro en sus conversaciones con nosotros que la auto-censura es un requerimiento legal no negociable”, dijo el vicepresidente ejecutivo David Drummond ayer por la tarde, en una entrada en el blog corporativo de la empresa. “Tenemos la esperanza de que el Gobierno de China respete nuestra decisión, aunque somos conscientes de que podría bloquear el acceso a nuestros servicios en cualquier momento”.

Hong Kong se incorporó a China en 1997, bajo un acuerdo entre Londres y Pekín según el cual la antigua colonia británica mantendría un elevado sistema de autonomía durante 50 años. Las únicas normas de censura que se aplican en Hong Kong atañen a casos de pornografía online. “En Hong Kong se aplica la norma de un país con dos sistemas. Es el crisol de la disidencia china en Internet, tiene una libertad online que no existe en el resto del país. Movimientos políticos o religiosos que no son permitidos en China, como Falun Gong, operan libremente allí”, explica Rebecca MacKinnon, una reputada investigadora de la Universidad de Princeton que hasta hace poco fue profesora en la Universidad de Hong Kong.

Ya sin censura

En el buscador de Google alojado en Hong Kong no existe ya ningún tipo de censura, en un claro desafío a Pekín. Aparecen búsquedas sobre la matanza de la plaza de Tiananmen en 1989, sobre el movimiento religioso de Falun Gong y sobre el Dalai Lama y la independencia de Tíbet. “El hecho de que sus servidores se alojen en Hong Kong implica que las autoridades chinas no podrán detener o procesar a ninguno de los responsables de mantener la página web”, añade McKinnon. “El único recurso que le queda a Pekín es el bloqueo total de algunas páginas o del sitio completo. Si Pekín quiere censurarlo, deberá prohibirlo por completo”.

En Hong Kong, una ciudad de siete millones de habitantes, se utiliza principalmente un chino escrito con caracteres denominados tradicionales. La empresa ha modificado su buscador Google.com.hk para que aparezca con un interfaz escrito con unos caracteres chinos simplificados, que son los que se utilizan en el resto de China, donde habita una comunidad de internautas que las últimas cifras oficiales colocan en torno a los 400 millones. Los internautas que se conecten a la red desde direcciones IP de Hong Kong seguirán teniendo acceso a una versión de la web en chino tradicional, como hasta ahora.

Google también anunció ayer que, de momento, sus oficinas en China seguirán en funcionamiento. Allí emplea a unas 600 personas, la mitad en el departamento de investigación y desarrollo y la otra mitad en el de ventas. “Aun así, el tamaño del equipo de ventas dependerá parcialmente de la capacidad de los usuarios de China de acceder a Google.com.hk”, según aclaró ayer el vicepresidente en su blog. Además, aclaró que la decisión de abandonar la censura y su salida de China fue una decisión “tomada por los ejecutivos de EE UU, algo de lo que los empleados en China no pueden ni deben ser considerados responsables”.

El anuncio de Google pone fin a más de dos meses de negociaciones con el régimen de Pekín para cumplir lo que la empresa prometió a sus usuarios: dejar de doblegarse ante las estrictas normas de censura de China, a las que sí se someten otras empresas como Microsoft o Skype. El anuncio inicial lo hizo la empresa en el mismo blog corporativo, el pasado 12 de enero, al revelar un ataque de hackers chinos, relacionados con el Gobierno de Pekín, contra sus servidores.

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Google Faces No Hong Kong Censors After China Retreat

The article below shows how the “one country, two systems”, under which Hong Kong is governed by China, works.

March 24 (Bloomberg) — Hong Kong says it won’t help China censor Google Inc., after the search engine provider said it would route mainland users through its site in the city.

Hong Kong respects freedom of information and its free flow, a spokesman for the city’s Information Services Department said yesterday, declining to be identified as a matter of policy. There are no restrictions on access to Web sites, including access to Hong Kong-based Web sites from China, he said.

While China regularly blocks content from Web sites outside its borders, Hong Kong’s reaction illustrates the autonomy it enjoys under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy that guided its 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty. Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law, guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom and privacy of communication.

The government’s response to Google’s move yesterday “highlights Hong Kong’s advantages,” said David Zweig, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “It’s worth reminding people that they can come to Hong Kong because of ‘One Country, Two Systems.”

Thirteen years after the Hong Kong handover, Beijing has done little to meddle in management of the city — home to Asia’s third-largest stock market by capitalization, 34 billionaires and the world’s third-highest office rents.

News, Rumors

“One of Hong Kong’s key rationales as a financial center is its freedom of information,” said Michael DeGolyer, professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. “One reason that fund management is in the city and not in China is freedom of information. If you can’t get either the news or the rumor you’re not going to be able to buy and sell with any accuracy. This is why Hong Kong is still the financial center of China.”

Google decided to direct traffic to the Hong Kong site after a two-month dispute with the Chinese government over censorship. Analysts say China will continue to control content within its borders, blocking content from Hong Kong and beyond.
“It’s very likely that Google.com.hk will be blocked at least as aggressively as Google.com was and, more likely, probably more aggressively,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech Inc. in San Francisco.

Google’s Conscience

So instead of censoring itself, Google is placating its conscience by having China do the filtering, Andy Xie, an independent economist, said in a phone interview.

Given that Apple Daily, a mass circulation Chinese-language newspaper, operates in Hong Kong with an editorial line severely critical of the mainland government, the rerouting of searches is unlikely to prompt a crackdown in the city, Xie said.

“Of course, the Chinese government is unhappy about Google’s decision because of the cost” of censoring increased Web traffic, Xie said.

By late morning yesterday, searches for “Tiananmen” on computers in Shanghai and Beijing could not be displayed, suggesting the government had started limiting access.

Since the People’s Liberation Army entered Hong Kong at midnight on June 30, 1997, the city’s 7 million residents have continued to enjoy freedoms far beyond those of their counterparts across the border in mainland China.

In 2003, the local population even overturned planned restrictions on freedom. After about half a million people marched against anti-subversion legislation, then-Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa withdrew the plan and later resigned.

To be sure, Hong Kong lacks fully democratic elections, a target promised in the Basic Law that Beijing has indicated will not occur before 2020. China has criticized the tactics of legislators seeking a faster pace of progress.

Other things prohibited in China remain legal in Hong Kong.

The Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China as an “evil cult,” operates openly in Hong Kong, organizing displays in public places such as the Star Ferry pier publicizing allegations of abuse by the mainland government.

And groups, from Trotskyists demanding full democracy and the departure of Chief Executive Donald Tsang to bar workers denouncing plans to limit indoor smoking, demonstrate freely.

Double Whammy to Fung Shui Master Tony Chan

The late woman tycoon Nina Wang Kung


On 31st December 2009. I posted a blog on a Chinese Metaphor or Chengyu 賠了夫人又折兵, which literally means “losing your wife and the army”, and the related English slang “double whammy”. There is a real case in the news in Hong Kong. It is the case of the Fung Shui Master, Tony Chan, and his legal battle for the estate of Nina Wang Kung, who was recognised as the richest woman in Asia at the time, when she passed away in 2007. The estate is said to be worth US$13 billion today. On 2nd February, the High Court of Hong Kong ruled that the purported will. which is in Chan’s possession, on which he based his claim on the estate, is fake. Chan not only lost the legal battle in the civil court, but also was arrested by the Hong Kong Police and is likely to face criminal charges by the police for forging the will. Further, not only that his reputation, if any, is ruined but also likely to face jail sentences.  Please read about the case as reported by BBC in English and ABC.es in Spanish respectively.

Feng shui master denied Nina Wang fortune in Hong Kong

A court in Hong Kong has thrown out a feng shui master’s claim to the multi-billion dollar estate of Asia’s richest woman, Nina Wang.Tony Chan, who said he was Nina Wang’s lover, had argued she left him her fortune in a 2006 will. But a high court judge said the will was a fake and a 2002 will was valid which left the estate to a charitable trust run by Wang’s family.Nina Wang’s Chinachem was worth $4.2bn (£2.1bn) when she died in 2007. The fortune had been part of an earlier dispute with her father-in-law.

High Court Judge Lam Man-hon ruled: “The court finds that the 2006 will was not signed by Nina.” “The 2002 will truly reflected the long-held intention on the part of Nina to leave her estate to charity,” the ruling said.The competing 2002 document left the estate to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which was set up by Wang and her husband and is run by members of her family. The Chinachem Charitable Foundation’s lawyer, Keith Ho, told reporters outside the High Court that the foundation was “very happy with the result”.”The main point is that the judge accepted the evidence from us that some signatures in the 2006 will are forgeries,” he said.Mr Ho said the foundation would continue to “carry out its charitable purpose”.

Mr Chan’s lawyer said his client was “extremely disappointed” by the judgment.”But he appreciates how difficult this sort of trial is to judge and that there has to be a judgment,” said Jonathan Midgley.He said Mr Chan’s position remained “the same as it has always been – namely that the will in question was given to him by Nina and accordingly it is inconceivable that that will is a forgery”.Mr Midgley said Mr Chan would appeal against the ruling.

By the time Nina Wang died of cancer in 2007, she had created a huge business empire – a conglomerate of high-rise towers and companies around the world. Her life was marked by the 1990 kidnap and disappearance of her husband, Teddy Wang Teh-huei. She wore miniskirts and her hair in pigtails into old age and was reputedly very frugal, despite her wealth, says the BBC.

Nina Wang paid half the HK$60m (US$7.7m) ransom for him early on, before proof of life had been made and, unusually, the money and most of the kidnappers were found, but never the body of Teddy Wang. When he never came back she refused to accept his death and reportedly spoke of wanting to join him. Teddy’s father later claimed his son’s fortune as his own, alleging that Teddy had been upset at an alleged affair of Nina’s.

It was the father who pressed for Teddy to be declared legally dead nine years later, prompting Nina to produce the hand-written will showing the fortune was hers. A court ruled it was a forgery in 2002 but a higher court reversed that ruling in 2005, and Nina Wang inherited the estate.

3.000 millones de euros encuentran heredero en China

Un “playboy” buscavidas metido a maestro de “feng shui”, una multimillonaria excéntrica famosa por sus coletas y sus gustos frugales y una fortuna valorada en 4.200 millones de dólares (3.010 millones de euros), pero que en realidad podría ser hasta tres veces mayor.
Estos son los protagonistas del último “culebrón” judicial que ha mantenido en vilo a la opulenta ciudad de Hong Kong, donde se acaba de dictar sentencia en el juicio por la herencia de la millonaria Nina Wang, una de las mujeres más ricas de Asia según la revista “Forbes”.
A sus 69 años, la presidenta del potente grupo empresarial Chinachem falleció en abril de 2007 de un cáncer. Atrás dejaba a su desconsolada familia y a Tony Chan, un maestro de “feng shui” 20 años más joven que ella que se había convertido en su adivino personal y con quien, además, mantenía una relación sentimental.

Al parecer, Tony, que antes de vidente había sido camarero, vendedor de maquinaría, técnico de marketing y hasta exportador de piezas informáticas, había encandilado a Nina Wang con sus cualidades más humanas que espirituales. Por ese motivo, a su muerte esgrimió un testamento supuestamente firmado por la millonaria el 16 de octubre de 2006 donde le dejaba como único heredero de su patrimonio.

En el primer testamento destinaba la herencia a su fundación benéfica

El problema es que la familia de Nina Wang tenía otra última voluntad, fechada el 28 de julio de 2002, donde destinaba su herencia a la fundación benéfica de su empresa, que ella había creado junto a su difunto marido, el magnate Teddy Wang. Curiosamente, la “Pequeña Dulce”, como era conocida la mujer por su parecido con un cómic japonés, también tuvo que pleitear por la fortuna de su esposo, ya que Teddy Wang fue secuestrado en 1990 y, a pesar de que se pagó un rescate de 33 millones de dólares (23,6 millones de euros), su cuerpo nunca fue hallado.

Nueve años después, fue oficialmente declarado muerto, pero Nina Wang, nacida en 1937 en Shanghai bajo el nombre Kung Yusum, tuvo que acudir a los tribunales para batallar por su herencia frente a su suegro, Wang Dinshin. Aunque el juez falló a favor de la viuda sólo dos años antes de su muerte, ya le había dado tiempo a multiplicar la fortuna de su difunto marido, pues convirtió a su empresa, Chinachem, en una de las inmobiliarias más potentes del mundo al construir 300 rascacielos durante los últimos años.

Igual de accidentada ha sido la herencia de Nina Wang, que un juez del Alto Tribunal de Hong Kong, Lam Man-hon, ha otorgado a sus familiares al considerar que el testamento de 2006 esgrimido por su amante era falso. “Su firma ha sido falsificada con mucha pericia, pero el tribunal no cree que la relación fuera tal que Nina estuviera preparada para donarle todo su patrimonio sin tener en cuenta sus otros compromisos y responsabilidades”, recoge el fallo judicial.

Sexo, dinero y “feng shui”

En un caso que ha enganchado a la opinión pública hongkonesa por mezclar sexo, dinero y “feng shui”, la popular filosofía oriental que estudia la disposición de los objetos para aprovechar su máxima energía natural, la sentencia aclara que “darle regalos a Tony Chan e incluso grandes sumas de dinero en vida de Nina cuando éste la hacía feliz es una cosa. Convertirle en el único heredero de toda su fortuna es otra muy diferente, ya que ella situó sus obligaciones caritativas por encima de Chan y habría querido que su relación secreta fuera enterrada con ella tras su muerte”.

Tras ver cómo las intimidades de la multimillonaria eran destapadas en el juicio, donde su amante llegó a decir que tenía dos de sus coletas y que hacían el amor incluso cuando su esposa estaba embarazada, la familia de Nina Wang aplaudió satisfecha la resolución judicial. “Hemos ganado. Hay justicia en el mundo”, se congratuló su hermano, Kung Yan-sum.

Mientras tanto, sus abogados aseguraron que Tony Chan estaba “decepcionado”, pero que recurriría la sentencia. A su frustración se suma ahora la posibilidad de que sea acusado de haber falsificado el testamento de Nina Wang, unos cargos por lo que, en caso de ser declarado culpable, puede ser condenado a 14 años de prisión.
Compuesto y sin herencia, el adivino necesitará algo más que el buen rollito del “feng shui” para superar que los 3.000 millones de euros de Nina Wang han encontrado, por fin, un heredero. Y no ha sido él.

WordPress is blocked in China again

It is sad that I learned from my good friend Joseph that my WordPress blog is now unavailable in the Mainland as it was and still blocked by the authority. The reason that I have one blog hosted in 163.com and one hosted in WordPress is that WordPress at one time was blocked in the Mainland but to my surprise it was unblocked a couple months ago and now it is blocked. The on and off, blocked and unblocked, is not good for a blog like mine, which has minimal political content yet it was affected by the country’s policy ebbs nonetheless.

It is extremely inconvenient for me to post my blogs at two different websites. Besides it defeats the purpose of me trying to bring the peoples of the two different cultures together. I think no social net or blog could be successful with both Chinese and western readers, although I am trying to do that impossible task. The reason I say this is that any one who is successful in doing so would be a victim of his own success. It is because there are people who would do things just to get on the Chinese authority nerves and would use such forum to achieve their purposes. Apparently there is no such forum at the moment. If there were one, I am sure it would be inundated with materials that would guarantee a shut down by the Chinese authority.

Further, there are some professional bloggers, which have economic motives to irritate or provoke the Chinese people or authority. They know some of the sensitive topics would guarantee strong and emotional reactions from the Chinese people. As I have written in my post on 17th November, 2009 entitled, China, one big blogging country, it was estimated that China has a blogging population of 182 million people at around September 2009. There is no single country which has such a big blogging population. If a blogger could make a name in the China, even in an underhanded way, it would be like printing money or like selling Big Macs in China. I need to point out they are so called professional bloggers because they earn money by putting advertisements in their blogs and more readers mean more advertising revenues.

Having said that I do not support a controlled internet policy. As a Hong Konger, I am used to and all for an open door policy in respect of internet use and information. Speaking from personal experience, I know my Mainland compatriots are sophisticated enough to tell which is true and which is untrue in respect of news or information received through the internet or other medias.

It brings me to another sad news is that Google reportedly is contemplating pulling out of the China market if its ends to self censorship are not acceptable to the Chinese authority. I am a big fan of Google. I use Google’s search engine for researches on my blog topics and on my English style and grammar. The other day my friend asked me a English grammar question: whether it is “make a voice heard” or “make a voice be heard”. At first glance, both seem correct. However, when I did a Google search, there were hundred of results for the former and none for the latter. So it is clear the former is the correct one. If Google indeed pulls out of the China market, I think it would be a great loss to the English learning community in China. With no disrespect to Baidu, which I think is a great search engine, personally I think as far as non-Chinese languages searches are concerned it has no competition against Google. Similarly, I think it would be a great loss to commercial business users in China too. Last week, my US principal asked me to search for certain machine parts, which are not available in the US. First off, I looked for a possible China supplier and did a Baidu search, but it came up with no answer. Then I did a Google search and found out that a part supplier in Poland had them in stock. What I intend to point out is that in the commercial world more information the better, a Google loss could be a China loss.

I hope Google and the China authority could work out an amicable settlement and my friends in the Mainland could continue to enjoy the great resources that Google has built up in English language searches.

Yellow Crane Pavilion of Wuhan, Hubei

In May this year I went to Wuhan, Hubei to visit a client. I took the opportunity to visit the famous Yellow Crane Pavilion (黄鹤楼 pinyin: Huáng Hè Lóu), which is a structure of about 7 storeys built on a slightly elevated land at the bank of the famous Yangtze River. The history of the pavilion dated back to the Three Kingdoms period (220-280). When I stepped onto the terrace on the top floor of the pavilion, I had a fine view of the Yangtze River and the entire city of Wuhan. I was overwhelmed with emotion and proud of the greatness of the history of China.

The building is said to be named after a fairy tale that a fairy once passed here riding on a yellow crane. The building is regarded as one of the three most famous ancient terraces in China. There were many poems using this pavilion as the subject and below are the two most famous ones (sources of the two poems: Wikipedia)

Poem by Cui Hao
Yellow Crane Tower was made famous by an 8th century poem written by Cui Hao called “Yellow Crane Tower” (黄鹤楼). The original text of the poem is shown below:

昔人已乘黄鹤去,此地空余黄鹤楼。
黄鹤一去不复返,白云千载空悠悠。
晴川历历汉阳树,芳草萋萋鹦鹉洲。
日暮乡关何处是? 烟波江上使人愁。

A modern English translation of the poem may follow as such:

Long ago a man rode off on a yellow crane, all that remains here is Yellow Crane Tower.
Once the yellow crane left it never returned, for one thousand years the clouds wandered without care.
The clear river reflects each Hangyang tree, fragrant grasses lushly grow on Parrot Island.
At sunset, which direction lies my home town? The mist covered river causes one to feel distressed.

Poem by Li Bai

There is another famous poem about it by Li Bai called “Seeing off of Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower” (黄鹤楼送孟浩然之广陵). The original poem is shown below:

故人西辞黄鹤楼,
烟花三月下扬州。
孤帆远影碧空尽,
唯见长江天际流

A modern English translation of the poem may follow as such:

My old friend’s said goodbye to the west, here at Yellow Crane Tower,
In the third month’s cloud of willow blossoms, he’s going down to Yangzhou.
The lonely sail is a distant shadow, on the edge of a blue emptiness,
All I see is the Yangtze River flow to the far horizon.

My dear friends, please make a translation of the two poems. You may post it at “the comments” or send to me at bzin88@gmail.com

Can you find real friends at language social nets?

I have been a regular user of the language social nets like italki and Livemocha (hereinafter referred to as the said two nets) for almost 2 years, although I was on a hiatus for over 1 year and became active again in October this year. During the period, I have made a lot of friends. Recently I came across an interesting topic raised by my good friend, Judy, as to whether one can find real friends over such nets.

First and foremost, no one would argue that the two said two nets are not dating nets like Match.com or Love.163.com in the US and China respectively, the purpose of which are to serve people who are looking for dates or relationships. Whereas the purpose for the said two nets is for people to look for language partners usually from another part of the world. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to develop real friendship or a relationship.

Having said that, I think real friendship can be made over the nets like the said two nets. It is particular so in LiveMocha, whereby friends review the exercises or homeworks of other friend without any material benefits. A lot of my friends have gone through the trouble of going through the exercises I submitted in details and recommended ways as to how I can improve my language skills. I reciprocate the same by reviewing those of my friends. If that is not real friendship I don’t know what is.

As for my personal experience, I think I have found, among others, a real real friend in Jose Antonio of Mexico, whom I met at italki, in about June of 2008. He was very supportive of me when I wrote a similar blog then. He used to contribute from time to time to my former blog. Jose and I had difficulties understanding each other and I think we still do as my Spanish was limited then and still is, so was and is Jose’s English, but that did not affect our friendship. When I started this blog in about a month ago, without asking, Jose contributed a page long article entitled “The Chinese and Mayans were connected 5000 years ago” (my title), which has created tremendous interests among my Spanish speaking friends. To Jose, thanks once again.

Another good friend of mine is Jenny at my blog at 163.com. We share our personal feelings and concerns with each other from time to time, although we are only Platonic friends. Also Jane too at bzin1.weebly.com, I have been reviewing her English exercises. She is very kind to let me put up her works at my site for the benefits of my other friends. From time to time Jane gave me advice and inputs regarding the said website. Thanks also to Joseph which had written more comments on my blog at Wordpress than anyone, although I have known him for only three days. Also to John, another frequent follower of my blog, who shares his interests in music with me at bzin1.

As I write on, I notice one fun fact is that of all the names mentioned above, they all start with a J, Judy, Jose, Jenny, Jane, Joseph and John. I think it is what we Chinese say I have unspoken connections (緣份)with people’s names starting with the letter J. My friends, if you are angry with me because I did not mention your name as yours does not start with a J, let me know. If that is the case I owe a big apology to you.

Another issue encountered by users of the said two nets is whether one should meet his or her friend face to face personally. It is unlikely that friends of the said two nets would meet face to face as most of them are literally world apart. If such situation arises, what is your position? Personally, I have reservations about meeting a person whom I  know over the internet. Nonetheless, I have met one of my friends, an Italian fellow, together with his wife, when they came to Hong Kong as tourists. They were an extremely nice couple and we had a nice coffee and a nice exchange of languages in English and Spanish.

As a man, I have lesser concern, or no concern at all, regarding my personal safety if I am to meet with friends of the said two nets personally. If you come to Hong Kong, I would be most delighted to meet with you personally and extend a warm Hong Kong hospitality to you. As a matter of fact, I have never had any bad experience with my friends on the said two nets. The same cannot be said of my female counterparts. A couple of them told me that they occasionally were being pestered or harassed by some so called “men friends”. I think that is one of the negatives of an open communications system that one has to live with amid the many benefits that come with it.


马照跑舞照跳 Horse races go on and night clubs stay open

马照跑, 舞照跳 This quote, originated in Hong Kong in the eighties. is associated with the smooth transition of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the British to the China motherland. The literal translation of this quote is “horses continue to run and people continue to dance”, which figuratively means “Horse races will go on and night clubs will stay open”.

I went to the Shatin race course for a horse race yesterday. It reminded me of the said quote. Let me write about the background thereof. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain under an unequal treaty under the Qing Dynasty which gave Britain “the right” to rule Hong Kong until 1997. In the eighties, China made it known unequivocally to the British that China wanted Hong Kong back came 1997. Back then, Hong Kong people were concerned that the change of sovereignty would mean a loss of freedom or a loss of the capitalistic lifestyle, which Hong Kong got so used to. With hindsight, Hong Kong people’s worries were unwarranted as Mainland China seems more materialistic than Hong Kong nowadays At that time, in order to calm the fears of the local people, the then China chief negotiator, Zhou Nan, said this popular quote, which meant that the status quo of Hong Kong would be maintained notwithstanding the change of flags. Under the doctrine of communism, gambling and sexes associated with horse racing and night clubs respectively are totally unacceptable. However, those were and are part of the lifestyles of Hong Kong. By saying that quote, the Central government was essentially saying Hong Kong would maintain a system which is financially, legally and politically independent from the Mainland China, thanks to which Hong Kong continues to prosper.

Below is an extract from the article entitled “Horse racing in Hong Kong….” written by Rory Boland at About.com, which aptly describes what horse racing is all about in Hong Kong.

Horse racing in Hong Kong is a pivotal part not only of many people’s lives but the city’s economy, and horse racing in Hong Kong is followed far more passionately than anywhere else in the world. Racetracks, particularly Hong Kong’s Happy Valley, which offers flat races only, are regularly packed, boasting an electrifying atmosphere that is rarely replicated on other racetracks. Outside the stadium, locals pour over form guides and tipster rundowns.

In all honesty, Hong Kong’s obsession with the horses is more an obsession with gambling,…….however with some of the world’s best tracks, world class race meets and a manic crowd, a visit to the track is a must. Those who are used to the refined atmosphere at English meets, or the sober surroundings on American tracks will find the roaring Hong Kong crowd and humble approach an exciting shock to the system and Happy Valley is simply one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles.

Aside from the gambling and the racing, Happy Valley is very much a social affair. Beer tents and make shift hot-dog stands keep 40,000 people fed and watered, and much of the racetrack turns into the city’s biggest al-fresco bar.

Hong Kong Jockey Club

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has a monopoly on racing and betting in the territory, a holdover from colonial days, and the HKJC is the territories largest taxpayer and charity. The organisations privileged status is thanks to the average six million plus bets placed on each meet, meaning a flutter for nearly every Hong Kong resident.

According to an article of BBC in 2002:

the Hong Kong Jockey Club receives in excess of U$10 billion in betting revenues (around 80% of the US combined take from 167 racecourses), and the totalised wagers staked on a single day’s meeting can quite often be more than an entire year’s betting on many European and American racetracks.

Nevertheless, the HKJC does not make a profit, nor is it allowed to do so. Instead, the Jockey Club is Hong Kong’s largest contributor to tax revenue, and is the biggest single supporter of the city’s charitable causes. Indeed, at the end of the 2000 – 2001 racing season, the HKJC had given HK$1.06 billion in charitable donations to assist 180 charitable organisations and community projects.