Due to it’s historical and political standing finding it’s essence is quite complex and to this day Hong Kong is something of an anomaly.

In the 30 years since the ‘Handover’ when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back from the UK to China, there is evidence to suggest that Hong Kong has seemingly struggled to establish an identity of it’s own.

In those 3 decades, Hong Kong has not become a fully integrated part of mainland China, and is instead classified as a ‘Special Administrative Region’.

Once an integral part of the Chinese economy due to Hong Kong’s prominence in global banking, the mainland’s reliance on the region has also evolved.  The thriving China mainland boom has seen it’s economy grow exponentially, which now see’s Hong Kong only contributing a mere 3% to the nation’s annual GDP.

So it’s no surprise that this political and financial detachment, paired with it’s geographical separation see’s Hong Kong sitting adrift of the mainland metaphorically and literally.

However, it’s culturally that we begin to see what may be the clearest signs of what Hong Kong is.

Areas such as Sham Shui Po represent an essence of old world charm, while the glitz and luxury of high end shopping centre meccas like Kowloon and Central offer a more clinical and contemporary representation of Hong Kong, but the quietly developing area of Sheung Wan may be a good place to gain an insight into what Hong Kong’s essence is and can be.

The notoriously traditional area is the site of temples and local trade (it was and continues to be the home of many of Hong Kong’s coffin makers), yet is embracing innovation and development in a measured way.

Still showcasing a local look and feel, the area is also displaying an elegance and vibrance that embraces signs of modernity; art galleries, cafes and boutique businesses are thriving in an area that fuses the old with the new.

And this fusion is what could be a suggestion of what Hong Kong is; the alchemy of modern and old to create an identity of it’s own.

The Hong Kong millennials are key in this process.  They have only known the post-Handover world and seem keen to help Hong Kong evolve into what they want and hope it can become beyond the historical and political limitations that have blighted it’s sense of being and identity.

Through creativity, endeavour and enterprise this generation have the drive and vision to help redefine Hong Kong’s present and future, and they could be the gateway to opening the potential of this great location both nationally and Internationally in a period more defining than that of 30 years ago.

Published on Highsnobiety.