A guide to serviced offices and office space for rent in Hong Kong as well as general information that may be useful if you are considering renting office space in the city.
Hong Kong and Guangdong
The history of people living in what we now know as Hong Kong is believed to date back tens of thousands of years and during the intervening centuries the islands were successively subsumed by various ancient Chinese kingdoms. Lying on the coast of the South China Sea and by the side of the Pearl River Delta, the small collection of islands went on to become some of the most keenly contested and fought over land in Asia.
Incorporated into the first large-scale Chinese Empire around 2,200 years ago, the coastal areas of Guangdong first began to show their economic worth during the 8th century, during which time Hong Kong grew in prominence as a trading post. Ruled successively by the Tang and Song Dynasties, the city continued to grow until it was taken by the Mongols in 1276.
Hong Kong had been an important outpost during centuries of Asian infighting and imperial activity but it inadvertently entered the global stage with the arrival and interest of European merchants at the start of the 1500s. Portuguese were the first to begin trading and to establish settlements along the near-by coastal areas but it was the British, almost two hundred years later, who would leave the most lasting European impression on Hong Kong.
Angered by the decision of the Qing Dynasty to stop importing opium into Guangdong, as they had been doing for over a century, British forces seized control of Hong Kong in the early 1840s and eventually succeeded in establishing a Crown Colony on the islands. The endeavour was not without its critics and battles between rival imperialists in the region raged on and off for several decades.
In 1898, a deal was struck that went a long way to defining Hong Kong’s unique character and making it what it is today. The British obtained a lease on many of the islands for a period of 99 years. The territories outlined at that time are still largely considered to define the boundaries of Hong Kong and development under British rule saw the city take a greatly different course to that it might otherwise have taken.
Hong Kong has now long been seen as a place where East meets West and that unique character is partly due to the systems of education, government and commerce that the British instigated during their hundred years or so in charge of the islands. Rapid industrialisation took place throughout the city from the mid-20th century onward and it has generally thrived as a largely autonomous area, firstly as a British ‘dependant territory’ and latterly as a ‘special administrative region’ of China.
High and Mighty
There are very few cities in the world that have grown so quickly as Hong Kong did during the 20th century but because of its tightly defined borders and relative lack of available land, the city was obliged to expand upwards. It is the hundreds of towering skyscrapers along the coast and backed by the near-by mountains that gives Hong Kong its particular appeal and allow it to accommodate roughly seven million people and function as a major centre in the global economy.
The city has long been a bastion of free trade and laissez-faire economic policies have tended to hold sway, even though Chinese influence on internal affairs has grown considerably since 1997. The strength of the private sector has made Hong Kong into one of the most powerful economies in the world and a place where virtually ever multi-national company is keen to do business.
Office space to rent in Hong Kong is currently among the most expensive and sought after anywhere in the world. The city and its central business districts in particular have seen sharper rises in price per square foot of office space in recent months than any other location. A report from November 2010 by CB Richard Ellis rated Hong Kong’s office space as the second most expensive in the world, behind that in London’s West End, and the same company expects to see two-thirds of the world’s office development activity to come from Asia-Pacific between 2010-2012, with Hong Kong likely to lead the way.
The demand for high-quality office space in Hong Kong is largely driven by the financial sector and businesses from associated industries, with many of the largest banks and investment groups increasingly aiming to grow their presence in the region as economies in Europe and the North America struggle to pull themselves out of deep recession. CBRE suggests that the world’s commercial property markets run in cycles and that the Asia-Pacific and Hong Kong are currently riding high in terms of demand and development of high-quality office space.
The sheer density of population and urban activity in Hong Kong has made it a necessity for the city to have one of the most advanced transport systems in the world, with the vast majority of journeys being made on the public networks on a daily basis. The rapid transit light railways criss-cross the city and stop at a total of 150 stations. These services are backed up by an extensive bus network and a mass transit train system that serves millions of commuters throughout the region.
For something a little more scenic, Hong Kong visitors and residents can hop on a ferry and take in the incredible views around Victoria Harbour. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong International Airport serves tens of millions of passengers on an annual basis and has close to a hundred operating airlines.
Culture and tourism
The cultural heritage of Hong Kong reflects its history as a place where Western and Eastern influences have become deeply interwoven, which gives the city a unique identity and makes it a fascinating place to visit at any time of the year. The city boasts some of the most visited and best regarded museums and art galleries in Asia, while Hong Kong cinema has attracted international acclaim, particularly within the hugely popular martial arts genre. The likes of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jet Li have all gone on to global stardom after starting their movie careers in the city.