Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

One Country, Two System, Zero Sense

Written by: on June 7, 2018

One Country, two Systems.


How does all that work? It’s a confusing, and contradictory accident of history. A complex dance of competing political agendas and incompatible ideologies. Reading A Modern History of Hong Kong by Steven Tsang was eye-opening. Going into this I knew that Hong Kong was part of China, kind of, but I was exactly sure how. And I was definitely not aware of how recent all this change has been. Beyond the readings, I was especially interested by all of the change that has happened since 1997. That is, after the 99-year contract with Chinese/British contract had ended. It’s a peculiar thing to make a 99 year contract. Its writing an agreement that you know you wont have to deal with the consequences fully. . I suppose the British thought they would figure something out in the next 99 years to be able to keep Hong Kong if they wanted The British government began a legacy that those who projected a transition they themselves would never live through. They planted see in a garden you never get to see.[1] Its writing some notes in song someone else will sing.[2] Building a government is as much as inheriting it from our fathers as it is borrowing it from your children. And the birthright for those in Hong Kong scares me for the next fifty 29 years until the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement of “no change for fifty years” is concluded.


What’s been most interesting is that despite the intentional efforts from the Chinese government to try and build shared culture with Hong Kongers, a distinctiveness has grown into that island. I think some of what caused this is a lack of a shared experience with the main landers. Tsang writes “Those born and bred in Hong Kong since 1950 by and large had no first-hand experience of the PRC until the latter opened up in the 1970s. It was this separation that provided the conditions for a political culture and an identity of its own to build up in Hong Kong.”[3] I think the application for some of this is to realize that that changing culture is much harder than we think. Like Leadeing with Cultural Intelligence said, changing culture is more like changing climate than changing weather.[4] A slowly moving force shifted through Hong Kong over the decides, and imperceptible to some the tipping point happened. The strongest evidence of this is the resistance and protests that have come in the last 3 or 4 years to the Chinese’s governments attempts for warrantless searches and regulating the curriculum of the education system of the children of Hong Kong. With protests hitting numbers of over 500,000 there is a massive voice against these shifts. This tension is only to increase as the 50 year contract comes closer to finishing.


My final surprise in beginning my study of Hong Kong is how much of an economic center this city really is. This island of Hong Kong makes quite the impact on the world economy. Living near Silicon Valley I thought San Francisco maintained some of the most expensive land in the world, but Hong Kong supersedes this. Rated by some the most expensive city in the world. One website explains the surprising real estate costs of Hong Kong and gives some good insight into the governmental tensions that fill so much of Hong Kong life.


“And finally, the number one least affordable city, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Hong Kong by a long shot. Even compared to number two, Sydney, Hong Kong’s mean multiple score is almost 6 points higher at 18.1, which is actually down from 19 last year. Multiple factors influence Hong Kong’s housing costs, including the ubiquitous supply/demand refrain and, of course, the incredibly high density and scarcity of land. The Government controls and leases most of the remaining developable land, and unfortunately, there’s not much incentive for the government to try to decrease the cost of Hong Kong’s housing because a large amount of its revenue comes from land sales, which allows the tax rate to remain so low. If property values were to drop, the government would lose revenue, and if they dropped too much, it could possibly even have to reevaluate its tax system.”[5]


Every week I get more excited for Hong Kong.



Chan, Simon. Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground up. IVP Academic, 2014.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Poisonwood Bible. Faber & Faber, 2017.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda (Ft. Leslie Odom Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton) – The World Was Wide Enough.” Genius. September 25, 2015. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://genius.com/Lin-manuel-miranda-the-world-was-wide-enough-lyrics.

Livermore, David A. Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success Ed. 2. Amacom, 2015.

Pullinger, Jackie, Andrew Quicke, Christopher Spencer, and Toto Winarno. Chasing the Dragon. Hodder & Stoughton, 2010.

“The World’s Most Expensive Cities in 2017 (And Why They Are So Expensive).” ArchDaily. July 03, 2017. Accessed June 07, 2018. https://www.archdaily.com/874693/the-worlds-most-expensive-cities-to-live-in-2017-and-why-they-are-so-expensive.


[1] “Lin-Manuel Miranda (Ft. Leslie Odom Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton) – The World Was Wide Enough,” Genius, September 25, 2015, , accessed June 07, 2018, https://genius.com/Lin-manuel-miranda-the-world-was-wide-enough-lyrics.


[2] “Lin-Manuel Miranda (Ft. Leslie Odom Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton) – The World Was Wide Enough,” Genius, September 25, 2015, , accessed June 07, 2018, https://genius.com/Lin-manuel-miranda-the-world-was-wide-enough-lyrics.


[3] Steve Tsang, A Modern History of Hong Kong (London: I.B.Tauris, 2007), 181.

[4] David A. Livermore, Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success Ed. 2 (Amacom, 2015), .


[5] “The World’s Most Expensive Cities in 2017 (And Why They Are So Expensive),” ArchDaily, July 03, 2017, , accessed June 07, 2018, https://www.archdaily.com/874693/the-worlds-most-expensive-cities-to-live-in-2017-and-why-they-are-so-expensive.


About the Author

Kyle Chalko

6 responses to “One Country, Two System, Zero Sense”

  1. Mark Petersen says:


    I love your quoting both Hamilton and the Poisonwood Bible in one blog post. (That Kingsolver novel was a good one that haunts me still.)

    Understanding HK as the world’s most expensive real estate helps me understand why Vancouver real estate also rocketed into the stratosphere following the 1997 handover to China. Wealthy Hong Kongers purchased real estate in Vancouver and Sydney and Toronto – as Commonwealth countries on the Pacific Rim they had easy access – as an insurance policy if things went bad in HK. They sent their kids to universities and occupied condos, giving them eventual citizenship. Many of them actually commuted between Vancouver and HK. We now affectionately call Vancouver “Hongcouver”.

  2. M Webb says:

    God knows 上帝知道
    Like you I am looking forward to our leadership and global perspectives opportunity when we arrive in Hong Kong with GFU’s LGP cohorts. I doubt they will ever transition back to the traditional PRC context. Like you said, changing cultures is like changing climates, which takes a long time.
    Great insights into the “World’s Most Expensive Cities!” Are you thinking of moving there? Can outsiders own property in Hong Kong?
    M. Webb

  3. Jason Turbeville says:

    I was just as surprised to find Hong Kong on the top of the most expensive places to live. I knew it was expensive but that caught me off guard. I too, look forward to Hong Kong and to see what God wants to show us there.


  4. Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Kyle,

    Wow, I better plan on bringing more money to Hong Kong. I was spoiled in Cape Town.

    Today’s exchange rate is in our favor 1 US dollar to 7.84 Hong Kong Dollars.https://www.x-rates.com/table/?from=HKD&amount=1

    Are things just going to have a much higher price, like a coke for 10 US dollars?

  5. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Kyle! I’m with you – every day I’m more excited for our travels to HK. Thank you for doing some more research on the exchange rate, housing, etc. I know that our exchange student lived in 500 sq ft. “apartment” and the cost was 400K+. Very expensive! And small! I think the cultural integration between PRC and HK will not happen – it’s a bit like saying we can eradicate racism in America…too much history and historical trauma.

  6. Greg says:

    One country to systems really means China is playing the long game and making subtle differences each year. Slowly its tendrils are changing and influencing this country. Last year (or the one before) they had “free elections” that the country in allowed to have. The problem people had was that the candidates were all hand picked by Beijing and then the people could chose from the pre-approved list. We all have a lot to learn about this complex city-state.

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