17 August 2019
Many people from the mainland are forced to live in cramped subdivided flats in Hong Kong, but don't seem to mind as life is still better here. Photo:
Many people from the mainland are forced to live in cramped subdivided flats in Hong Kong, but don't seem to mind as life is still better here. Photo:

What mainlanders love about Hong Kong

Confrontations and noisy quarrels between Hongkongers and mainland Chinese visitors have been very frequent in recent years, adding to the tensions in the city.

Despite all that, the rush of mainlanders scrambling for university places in Hong Kong and opting to stay on in the territory after graduation remains unabated. So, what explains this phenomenon?

On, a Quora-like question-and-answer website popular among many Chinese netizens, some mainlanders living and working in Hong Kong have shared their thoughts and feelings. Let’s sample one voice.

Among Hong Kong’s many appealing virtues, Marco from Beijing values safety most.

One good is example is its airport. No matter how late your flight arrives, you can be sure that you will get home safe and quick — no need to worry that there won’t be bus services or that your taxi driver will overcharge. Hailing a taxi at midnight is just as safe as in day time.

Other good points are also easy to illustrate: Hong Kong’s status as a world city, its free flow of information, efficient public transport, highly developed metropolitan areas that coexist with vast country parks and greenness — sometimes within walking distances to each other. And, there is the rule of law and fair business environment.

The list doesn’t end here. Marco has some personal experiences that convinced him that Hong Kong is a nice place to stay.

He once had a sinusitis surgery at a local public hospital. The entire process, from booking to follow-up checks, just cost him HK$1,200 (US$155). He said all patients are triaged into urgent and non-urgent cases and appointments are easy to make. There are no touts selling booking quotas, and doctors and nurses are well-mannered and highly professional.

Marco also narrated an incident that points to the efficiency of local police. He says he once lost his wallet while dining in a canteen, prompting him to report the matter to authorities. Two policemen arrived within ten minutes and helped him find his wallet, he gushed.

As a pop music lover, he likes to attend various concerts. Whenever a show ends, sometimes early in the morning, MTR service or special bus trips will always be available.

Marco also points out that every time a wheelchair user seeks to ride the MTR, there will be a station staffer laying down a ramp to help the passenger board the train. And, when the passenger reaches his destination station, there will be another staffer waiting at the platform to help him get off.

All of these are in stark contrast to the way things are in Beijing.

Marco once had an acute appendicitis and rushed to Chao Yang Hospital, a major Grade Three AAA hospital in China’s capital city. He had to queue up at the hospital registry to pay despite the acute pain; and later, he was told that there was no bed space. He had to rely on his family’s connections with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health to secure some attention.

In the end, he got a transfer to the China Armed Police General Hospital, where he had to shell out more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,290) for his treatment. 

If you lose your wallet or bicycle in Beijing and call the police, you will likely be turned away as there are too many similar cases and the police simply won’t take any action.

Going back home after a late night concert is also challenging in the capital city as there will be no public transport and the only way is to take an unregistered taxi or minivan. And, as Marco says, he never finds a wheelchair user on Beijing’s subway.

Related story:

Life in Hong Kong for mainland graduate student

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


Hong Kong remains a big draw for mainlanders despite some ill-feelings among locals. The influx of people from across the border, meanwhile, has seen a word "港漂" (gangpiao, literally meaning drifters) being coined. Photo: TVB

Even the bigger rooms are hardly enough for amenities. Photo:

There’s apparently more space overhead but what’s the use? Photo:

Some rooms have space for toys and their owner. Photo:

Tiny as it gets, this room is a tight squeeze. Photo:

Two share this tiny room. Photo:

Everything but the kitchen sink has to fit into this section of the cubicle. Photo:

EJ Insight writer

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