Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Visit to Hong Kong

In early December 2014 I had the chance to spend a little bit more than a week in  Hong Kong, to attend and present at the 2nd Conference for e-Demogracy and Open Governance in Asia (CEDEM Asia), that was organized at the City University of Hong Kong.  

With a population of more than 7 million people and a tremendous economic development over the last at least 20 years, Hong Kong is considered to be the “New York of Asia”: a place where cultures, languages, people, religions, industry and research meet and produce significant results.

With Associate Professor Marko Skoric, at City University Hong Kong
The visit to the City University (CU) of Hong Kong was fun and productivity combined: CU is ranked 108th  in the world, 11th  in Asia and 4th in Hong Kong by the QS World University Rankings (2014/15).  I had the chance to visit the Public Policy and the Media and Communication Departments, talk to faculty and students, discuss collaboration opportunities and share curriculum experiences. The Media and Communications Department, being at relevant size with my Department of Information and Communication Systems Engineering department in Samos, served as a nice example for making comparisons.  See the table below to understand some of those, and reach your own conclusions:

City University Hong Kong
Dep. of Media and Communication
University of the Aegean
Dep. of Information and Communication Systems
Number of Faculty
Administrative and Technical Staff
Pre-graduate Students
Post-graduate Students
Annual Fee per pre-graduate student
10,000 EUR
0 (free)
Annual Fee per post-graduate student
>12,000 EUR
3,000 EUR
Monthly Salary of Associate Professor (Gross, with benefits)
10,000 EUR
2,400 EUR
Average Income Taxation
Average rent for 80 sqm
3,000 EUR
700 EUR

The impressive Run Run Shaw building of M&C department at City University HK

The CEDEM 2014 Conference provided me with a chance to meet fellow scholars and practitioners in electronic government from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.  My presentation was about the 4th generation of social media tools in governance, inspired and cofounded by the EU Community project, that can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/charalabidis/social-media-in-policy-making-the-eu-community-project-approach

Apart from the visit to the University and the CEDEM Conference the city had a lot to offer in site-seeing and people-watching.  Among the highlights I would pinpoint the following:      

  • The big (26 meters high !) statue of Buddha in Landau Island, together with the Po Lin monastery and the whole surrounding area.  I easily spent one full day, and I could spend a lot more in the tranquility of the whole setup.

The Big Buddha statue in Landau Island
  • The Hong Kong “skyline”, which you can see either during the day or night – it is equally overwhelming …

The Hong Kong skyline at night

But, above all, in order to understand Hong Kong, one must pay attention to the numbers - that are usually not easy to realise at first site.  For example: you see a block of flats. it looks big. but if you study careffuly you count:
  • 50 floors
  • 24 flats per floor 
  • A total of 50 X 24 = 1200 flats
  • With an average of 4 persons / flat, a total of almost ... 5,000 people in one block of flats
  • With a footprint of approcimately 2,000 square meters per bock of flats, you may have 20 of them in an 400 m X 400 m landplot: 100,000 people in a (large) landplot !
Typical Hong Kong block of flats -5000 people in one building
Or the metro: MTR (Hong Kong metro - stands for Massive Transportation Railway) looks like a typical metro operation, with trains and stations like in every European city.  But, some attention in the numbers will reveal the following:

  • Each train has 12 carriages
  • With 34 meters length per carriage the whole train is ... 400 metres long. Each train.
  • When fully loaded, each train carries pprocimately 3,500 people.
  • In the morning rush hour, trains come every minute, from the 7 lines servicing Hong Kong centre,  3,500 people X 7 lines X 60 trains per hour = 1,5 million people per hour top capacity (the MTR carries 5,5 million people per day)
Inside the 400 meters long MTR 
Last things I would like to pin-point are:
  • The very active General Consulate of Greece
  • The large open-air markets (like Greek "panigiri")
  • The elaborate, expensive restaurants (more than 30 michelin-stars-level) and bars in the town (try the Shangri-La or the Felix)
  • The live street Chinese opera singers, next to the Temle Street market, after 22:00
  • The V-king bar at the Hung Hong pier, a place to meet with "locals" of Asia-Pacific
So long Hong Kong ! (for the moment - already thinking to plan my next visit there ...)

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