If recent articles coming out of Hong Kong are to be believed, the city may be less of a bilingual metropolis than we imagine. Some contend that since the handover 1997, China has been subtly undermining the use of English.
Government’s lack of interest in driving use of English
While the official stance is that English continues to be one of the primary languages of communication in business and administration, reality seems to be quite different. The Hong Kong SAR government for all purposes has made Cantonese their primary medium of communication. The only exception to this rule is for the rare press conference when English is used to address the media and the Information Services websites and a smattering of others teams that offer translations. Almost all interaction with the public is in Cantonese. There is certainly nothing wrong with that - until you realize that English still features on paper, as one of the main languages.
The challenge of this dichotomy and the need for language training
Having English on the board while not actively working at it means that a lot potentially slips between the cracks. Misinterpretation is rife as businesses and society are ill equipped to translate and interpret some finer elements of Cantonese. This summons up the need for sound language training and courses so that administration and spokesperson are able to release announcements in both English and Cantonese. This needs to cut across the all arms of society. Equally, businesses employing expats must necessarily equip them with the language skills and courses in Cantonese to ensure they understand not just the language but the cultural nuances that go with it.