Question of the Week: Does Hong Kong Have a (Cultural) Life?

My normal inclination is to choose a Question of the Week that would lead into the following week's lecture topic. But during the POLI0068 IBGM tutorial yesterday, we had such a lively discussion about what Daniel Fung said about Hong Kong's cultural life that I thought it would be fun to put this topic on the table.

Many of the IBGM students felt Daniel Fung had been unfair when he said that, after showing visitors around, there is "diddly-squat" to do in this town once you have had a nice Chinese meal. Others believed he was somewhat elitist by using the lack of a Borders bookshop (a large American chain of bookstores) here as an indication that Hong Kong's cultural life is limited. Some took exception to the observation that young people typically do little else than hang out, go shopping and play video games. We also discussed whether the government should be involved in promoting international cultural activities and attractions - or should the focus be on local Chinese culture. Daniel Fung challenged the notion that Hong Kong is "Asia's World City", at least in terms of culture. If Hong Kong isn't, then should we aspire to be?

So the questions I would pose are the following: Is there a Hong Kong culture? Are we lacking the cultural life that we should have to be a truly international city? Do we need to be a global cultural hub to be a globally competitive and cosmopolitan city? Are we too absorbed by doing business and making money? And should the government be doing more to promote culture - ditch "positive non-interventionism" and adopt an ambitious and aggressive culture policy?

Let's hear your views.

To spur your thinking, you might like to read this article by writer and former Taipei culture chief Lung Ying-tai, who is currently a visiting professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at HKU. This is an unofficial English translation from the original Chinese.

You may also still comment on earlier Questions of the Week - on whether being an SAR of the PRC affects Hong Kong's ability to develop its international relations, and on Hong Kong's competitiveness. Speaking of competitiveness, you might be interested in this comment by one of your colleagues who compared what Mike Rowse told us last week with what we heard from Daniel Fung. Agree - or disagree? Why not reply to this or any other comments? A free-for-all exchange - that's what this blog should be.

Feel free to comment on anything on this blog. And if you wish to initiate a topic, just email me your comment and I can post it.