A Briton who thinks the local way

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am

Despite being born and raised in Britain - and considering herself British - Ellen Cheng does not see herself as an expatriate.

The human resources lawyer for computer giant Intel, who came to Hong Kong on a gap year 14 years ago and decided to stay, just never thought the term 'expat' applied to her.

'When I think of an expat, I visualise someone who is given a sweetener to come over to Hong Kong with the rent paid, that means a generous housing allowance, education for the kids and a flight back to the UK,' she said. 'That has never been the case for me.'

In the years since reunification, she has seen employers deliberately move away from employing what she sees as expatriates.

Ms Cheng has no doubt her cultural and language skills - she is fluent in Cantonese as well as English - helped fast-forward her early career.

Ms Cheng believed that while there are still traditional expatriates around, there are far fewer than when she first arrived.

'You do have many long-term expatriates, who are permanent residents here. Now, the definition of 'expat' would be someone who is not from Hong Kong,' she said.

This is an edited version of an article by Barclay Crawford which appeared in the Sunday Morning Post on June 22