Hong Kong SAR, China flag Hong Kong SAR, China: Business Environment

Business Practices in Hong Kong SAR, China

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global, Hong Kong business culture as per Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Banks and government offices close on Saturdays and Sundays.

Stores close at 10:00 pm. They remain open sometimes even on Saturday and Sunday. Companies close at 06:00 p.m.

Public Holidays

New Year 1st January
Lunar New Year 4 days, date varies every year based on the moon (between mid-January and mid-February).
Good Friday The Friday before Easter (in March or April)
Easter Monday in March or April
Buddha Anniversary May
Labor Day 1st May
Ching Ming Festival 5 April
Tuen Ng Festival In May or June
HKSAR Establishment Day 1st July
National Day 1st October
Lu Pan Birth Anniversary In July
Maidens Festival In August
Liberation Day In August
Mid-Autumn festival In September or October
Cheung Yeung Festival In October
Holiday Compensation
When a public holiday falls on a Sunday or on the same day as another holiday, the next day is a day off. Sometimes the government will select the day before as an off-day.

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Chinese New Year one week in January or February

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Business culture in Hong Kong is characterised by highly hierarchical structures, and people tend to be hard-working and career-oriented. Relationships (or Guanxi) are generally important in the Hong Kong business world, but they play a less prominent role than they do in China and Taiwan. Saving face is generally crucial in business.

Hierarchy is usually vertical. Decisions take time to be made and are often pragmatic. Decisions are made by people on the top of the hierarchy structure, and subordinates are not expected to express their opinion. Therefore, it's important to keep the hierarchical structure in mind when negotiating.

Hong Kongers often take a long-term approach to business relationships and often want to know their partners well in order to build mutual trust and loyalty. Therefore, many personal questions might be asked, and it's advised to answer them, as that will help solidify the business relationship. Business meals are often helpful to strengthen the relationship.

First Contact
It is often easier to make contact through a third party, who will serve as a basis and a support for all counterparts. Appointments are necessary and should be scheduled between one and two months in advance. It should be confirmed by phone or email a day before. It is preferable to not schedule meetings on Christmas, Easter or around the Chinese New Year, which are common vacation periods.
Time Management
Punctuality is usually paramount. You should arrive at meetings on time. If you are late, you should inform your counterparts about your delay and offer an apology. Business negotiations usually happen at a slow pace. Meetings with the larger Hong Kong firms and local offices of multi-nationals tend to follow a standard meeting style with set agendas and minutes, while smaller local organisations can be much more informal and relaxed.
Greetings and Titles
Greetings consist of a light handshake, eventually combined with a slight tilt of the head. People in Hong Kong often lower their eyes as a sign of respect. It is advised to avoid physical contact beyond handshakes. When introduced to a group of people, the most senior member should be greeted first. Business partners should be addressed by their title and surname. Several people in Hong Kong use a Western name to make it easier for their Western counterparts to address them correctly.
Gift Policy
Gifts are very common in business in Hong Kong. As its symbolic value exceeds its cost, expensive gift should be avoided. The gifts given to the members of a group should all be approximately of the same value or the gift for the chief executive should be more valuable. It is recommended to give the gift to the head of the group  Gifts should be given and received with both hands. One should be prepared for the gifts to be refused at several attempts before being accepted. Lastly, gifts should be beautifully wrapped.
Dress Code
Hong Kong business attire tends to be rather conservative. Men usually wear dark suits, ties, and dress shirts. Women commonly wear skirts, blouses, dresses and suits. It is important to note that colours have various meanings in Hong Kong, so extra attention must be paid when choosing work clothes. White is normally a sign of mourning, while red is considered a lucky colour. Carrying a good quality briefcase should be considered as elegant and prestigious for both men and women.
Business Cards
A handshake is usually followed by an exchange of business cards, preferably done in neutral colour scheme. One side of the card should be in English, and the other one in Chinese. It is worth the effort to look for expert advice on the Chinese characters to be used because some ideograms have a more favourable connotation than others. Cards should be given and received with both hands, holding each corner of the card between the thumb and the index finger. It is important to take some time to examine the card received. Showing respect for the message of the card also demonstrates respect for the person it represents.
Meetings Management
Business meetings are often long and will take place several times to establish a sustainable relationship. During a business discussion, it is common to have small talk before getting to the heart of the negotiation. Also, it's important to keep in mind that people enter a meeting in order of importance, with the highest ranking person going in first and so on.

It is important to be well-prepared for the meeting and to support everything you present with facts and figures. Negotiations tend to take time, as everything is discussed in detail and considered thoroughly. Pressuring your business partners into making their decisions quickly is seen as rude. So, it is recommended to always remain calm, patient and modest during negotiations.

Business people in Hong Kong are usually indirect communicators. Therefore, it is just as important to choose your words wisely. When refusing something or disagreeing with someone, it is advised to not simply say 'no', and instead try to find a different phrasing. Moments of silence are expected during negotiations, as such moments are usually meant for contemplation of what has been said, so it's advised not to interrupt them. Additionally, body language is not widely used, so displaying signs of anger might cause you to lose face, and even the deal.

Tea is served at meetings, but it's advised to not drink until the host takes the first sip. Business meals are very common in Hong Kong, and it is generally considered rude to refuse an invitation to dinner. If unable to attend the dinner, you should suggest an alternate date rather than refusing it. Sitting arrangements are important, and the host always sits across from the guest of honour and close to the entrance. Make sure that you leave some food on your plate after you've finished eating.

Sources for Further Information
Cultural Atlas Internations World Business Culture Commisceo Global

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Latest Update: June 2024