香港: 金融区野生动物出没 / Hong Kong: Wild Animals Near the Financial District

香港: 金融区野生动物出没

最近我应邀就香港的竞争优势发表演讲,演讲的对象是一群香港的意见领袖和精英群体:包括公司董事、企业家、前政府高官和媒体人等等。

在收到这个早餐会的演讲邀请几周后,我开始问自己为什么会接受这个邀请?我要讲些什么,才能让这些资讯达人觉得新鲜有趣?

那天早晨,直到离开家门赶去早餐会之前,我还在琢磨自己的开场白。一个演讲如果引子讲得好,后面的部分大都也会比较顺畅。

我没有准备任何书面讲稿。在前往会场的车上,我的脑海里一直萦绕着头天晚上不寻常的经历。表面上看,这段经历跟香港的竞争实力毫无关联,但深挖下去却不无关系。

我和太太经常在傍晚去宝云路散步。这条路就在香港半山我家附近,距中环只有几分钟车程。那晚我们遭遇了意外之喜,在道路靠山一侧居然近距离看到一只野生鼬獾——一种在香港比较普遍但又难得一见小型哺乳动物。

以前在这条小路上,我们还见过豪猪、各种彩色蜥蜴,还有蛇。

联想到这些经历,那天早晨演讲一开始,我就告诉大家我决定不谈香港的优势,而要谈谈鼬獾和豪猪。此言一出,笑声不断,即刻就让刚刚端起清晨第一杯咖啡或茶的听众们放松了下来。

我讲述了我和太太看到野生动物的故事,而地点离香港的中环金融区只有咫尺之遥,据我观察,这和香港的竞争优势的确存在某种关联。

香港的工作和生活节奏之快举世公认,甚至超过了纽约。这种快节奏常常会让我们忽略自己所看到的东西,尤其是就在眼皮底下的事物。

这就像是从高速列车往车窗外看,远处地平线的风景清晰可见,但窗前的物体却模糊一片。

由此可见我们很容易忽略鼻尖底下的东西,常会把熟悉的事物视作理所当然,不再关注。

接着,我讲到了香港作为工作和生活场所的种种优势,这些优势自香港成为特别行政区的15年以来一直都显著而强盛。

我经常会去北京。那里常年交通拥堵,网速缓慢,再加上其他一些因素,会让我工作日的产出低于香港的平均水平。而且,从很早以前开始,北京的物价就已经超过了香港。

在香港,同一天之内安排在五个不同的地点开会不成问题。但在北京这决不可能,除非会议的地点是在同一座大厦内。

至于政府效率,举例来说,在香港注册公司仅需4天,但在北京需要4个月。

这些都是我谈及香港优于中国其他城市乃至世界大多城市的例证。

近几个月来,香港的头条新闻以“唱衰”为主,让很多人都忽略了香港的实力与优势,更不用说豪猪和鼬獾。

可见,既要低头拉车,也要随时抬头看路,要审视自我,环顾左右。你可能会为自己的发现(或是重新发现)大吃一惊。

Hong Kong: Wild Animals Near the Financial District

I was recently invited to speak about Hong Kong’s competitiveness to an elite group of Hong Kong opinion leaders: company directors, entrepreneurs, former senior government leaders, journalists, etc.

Some weeks later, after I had accepted the breakfast speaking invitation, I found myself wondering why I had accepted. I asked myself what I could share with this very well-informed group which would be new and interesting.

That morning, just before leaving home for the breakfast meeting, I was still searching for a starting point for my comments. If you get the starting point right, the rest tends to flow more smoothly.

I’d prepared no written notes. In the car on the way to the venue, I kept thinking about an unusual experience I’d had the previous evening. On the surface it had nothing to do with Hong Kong’s competitiveness, and yet at a deeper level, it seemed related.

My wife and I had taken our usual late evening walk on Bowen Road, a path near our home in Hong Kong’s mid-levels, only minutes from Central District by car. To our great surprise and delight, we’d gotten a very close look at a wild animal on the hillside near the path. It was a ferret badger — a small mammal which is fairly common in Hong Kong but not often seen.

Along this same path, we’ve also seen porcupines and a variety of colorful lizards and snakes.

With that experience in mind, I began my comments that morning by saying I’d decided to talk to them about badgers and porcupines instead of Hong Kong’s competitiveness. This drew a laugh, which is a good way to loosen up a group who are still on their first cup of coffee or tea.

I recounted the tale of our wildlife sightings, only minutes away from Hong Kong’s financial district, and observed that there is indeed some relevance to the question of Hong Kong’s competitiveness.

The pace of work and life in Hong Kong is arguably faster than any city in the world, including New York. Such a rapid pace often has a dulling impact on our vision, particularly with reference to things close at hand.

Think, for example, about the view from the window of a high-speed train. Objects on the horizon are clearer in our vision, whereas objects nearer the track are more blurred.

The point is that it is easy to overlook certain things which are right under our noses, and to take things for granted which are so familiar that we stop noticing them.

I went on to talk about Hong Kong’s many strengths as a place to work and live, which remain vital and robust in the city’s 15th anniversary of becoming a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

As a frequent commuter to Beijing, the impact of constant traffic jams, slow internet speed, and other factors render my productivity on a given work day there as far below an average work day in Hong Kong. The days when Beijing was a less expensive environment than Hong Kong are also long gone.

It’s not difficult to schedule 5 meetings in one day in different locations in Hong Kong. That would be virtually impossible in Beijing, unless they are all in the same building.

As an example of government efficiency, it takes 4 days to incorporate a company in Hong Kong versus 4 months in Beijing.

These are a few of the many examples I cited of why Hong Kong retains a significant competitive edge over other Chinese cities and over most cities worldwide.

With all the bad news headlines in Hong Kong in recent months, many people tend to overlook our strengths and advantages. Not to mention our porcupines and ferret badgers.

Moral: run when you need to run, but from time to time, slow down, talk a walk, and look carefully at what’s around you. You might be surprised at what you discover, or rediscover.


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