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Why Are So Many People Leaving Hong Kong?

By September, Edwards and her husband will have to decide whether to stay or go home. She has lived in Hong Kong for twelve years and in Singapore. Many ex-pats went home for a few months this year. However, many have not returned after their trip. She wonders what the reasons are behind this sudden increase in exodus. This article examines why so many people have left Hong Kong.


Expats are questioning the future of Hong Kong as social and political tensions are rising and the Chinese government has become a more powerful influence. As a result, there have been numerous reports in international media about an exodus and brain drain from the city. To answer this question, let’s examine the circumstances driving many of these expatriates to leave Hong Kong. Here are some reasons why.

Travel restrictions: Some recent surveys show that a third of Americans living in Hong Kong is planning to leave the city within a year. One recent survey found that 44% of Americans living in Hong Kong were considering relocating. The restrictions have also hit headhunters and businesses hard, as their ability to hire talented locals is restricted. Ultimately, a thriving economy will require many skilled workers, but Hong Kong is not attracting enough to meet demand.

High rent prices: Hong Kong’s living cost is notoriously high. Hong Kong has been ranked the worst in the world for the last two years in an Expat Insider survey. High rent prices are another factor, with Hong Kong being second-to-last in affordable housing. Nine out of ten expatriates surveyed in the study said housing is unaffordable in Hong Kong.

Health problems: The recent COVID outbreak has caused the second epidemic of ex-pat exodus stories in Hong Kong. Expats have been warned to prepare for the worst and move back home in the second quarter. But the rumor is true: Hong Kong is infected with COVID, which is a virus that can be transmitted from mainland China. And the security law imposed by the government has made life more difficult for expatriates.

Language: Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong Kong. Although Cantonese is the most widely spoken language in Hong Kong, some minority groups use other variations of the language. English is the co-official language of Hong Kong, and all signage and government information is available in English. In addition, more than four out of five expatriates say that the language is not difficult to learn, which is essential if you want to stay in the city for a long time.

Pro-democracy activists

Across the city, pro-democracy activists are fleeing for their lives. They are leaving the city because they fear arrest or jail time for their activism. Some want to go underground, while others are preparing for a more violent path. Pro-democracy activists have also driven people away from Hong Kong. Among the many emigrants, activist Tommy Lam faces imminent jail time for his involvement in the pro-democracy movement. Moreover, he fears the police will follow him to the docks to arrest him.

COVID-19 restrictions have fueled the exodus. The regulations, designed to align with Beijing’s zero-COVID policy, include a lengthy quarantine requirement for visitors. Hong Kong has also prohibited gatherings and flights from several countries, contributing to the brain drain. As a result, the city’s growth and tourism predictions have been lowered.

A pacifist grass-roots and middle-class could revitalize the Hong Kong protest movement. Pro-democracy activists shouldn’t be able to bar people from demonstrating in the streets. Young activists like Wong have no patience with the older generation of Hong Kong activists. They feel more at home in Hong Kong’s urban areas.

The crackdown on pro-democracy activists has resulted in more than 100 arrests of pro-democracy figures. Many have been charged with security offenses and are in jail for their actions. In February, a pro-democracy newspaper called Apple Daily was arrested and prosecuted for cooperation with foreign forces.

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The security law has also increased the fear of speaking out against the government. Younger and middle-class Hong Kong professionals have increasingly aligned with the pro-democracy movement, but many fear their arrest and jail time. Despite the danger, some still leave Hong Kong for their safety. While many are fleeing Hong Kong because of the situation, others can’t see the point in staying in a place where they feel afraid to express themselves.

The Chinese Communist Party has effectively crushed the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and has pushed its political and social system to the brink of collapse. China’s policies and rhetoric have further eroded Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial hub. While Beijing claims that Hong Kong is a free and democratic city, the mainland government denies these claims and warns businesses against potential risks.

Expatriates fleeing censorship

Since the implementation of the new national security law, some expatriates have begun to question whether it’s time to leave the city. But not everyone is ready to go. We spoke to three Hong Kong expatriates to get their thoughts. Read on to learn more about why they are leaving. Let’s start with the situation in Hong Kong. The new law has severely affected press freedom and free expression. The authorities use criminal penalties to punish independent journalism and protect human rights activities.

The NSL has resulted in a chilling effect on online speech. Apps that help categorize businesses have been suspended or blocked, and people are preemptively censoring their online content. Others are deleting social media accounts and disliking pages linked to protesters. Signal downloads have spiked as a result of this censorship. This has caused concern among expatriates and prompted them to leave Hong Kong.

Another factor contributing to Hong Kong’s emigration crisis is censorship. In 1989, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party put the city under a three-week quarantine. The city’s economy suffered as tourists and business travel plummeted. However, bars and nightclubs remained open, despite fears from corporate executives. Expatriates grew weary of the strict government and the censorship that followed. They had a more minor stake in the city than Hongkongers and were reluctant to give up their cosmopolitan lifestyles.

The new national security law has resulted in a broader citywide crackdown. This censorship has resulted in illegal assembly and sedition cases brought under colonial-era sedition laws. Most prominent pro-democracy figures and opposition lawmakers have either been jailed or exiled. In addition, the United States and the U.K. have condemned the new national security law and said that Hong Kong violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which governs Hong Kong’s status after the handover.

The Chinese Communist Party has been repressing the public’s right to free speech. This is a massive concern for Hong Kong residents, who feel unable to express themselves freely. The government has been suppressing dissent since 2005. But the recent crackdowns and protests have only increased their discontent. The police have been patrolling the streets looking for rebels.

Coronavirus outbreak

A recent survey commissioned by the Democratic Party of Hong Kong found that 65 percent of respondents believe the city needs to adopt a COVID-19 strategy to combat the viral outbreak. The results also indicate that the number of cases per day is rising. In January, the city’s government announced that it would shorten the time incoming hotel visitors are quarantined. After quarantine, they will be expected to monitor themselves for seven days.

John, a mid-aged professional in the airline industry, is also leaving Hong Kong in droves. He plans to go with his wife by September, as he worries about potential backlash from his employer. During the past week, the Hong Kong government separated a mother from her 11-month-old baby for fear of COVID. Similarly, many other ex-pats have left the city.

The rapid spread of the disease prompted China’s leaders to announce unprecedented policies. The Chinese government suspended air travel and transportation in 15 major cities and halted the movement of people from one area to another. The Communist Party imposed a temporary quarantine to contain the virus. But it proved to be insufficient. It is not clear if the lockdown would be effective enough to prevent the outbreak from spreading to another part of the city.

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In the first two years of the COVID pandemic, Hong Kong logged 13,000 new cases and two hundred and thirty-three deaths. As a result, the authorities have effectively shut down a large sector of the economy and the city’s lucrative tourism industry. However, the actual toll is two million infections and 4.3 million deaths. The city’s repercussions are not only health-related but also economic, as it is the only place in the world where the number of cases is this high.

The CDC reported that the number of cases was seven times higher than a month earlier, indicating that the underlying reason for the high deaths and infection rates was not the outbreak itself. Instead, the high incidence of Coronavirus infection in the city might result from travelers from «low risk» areas who had not been adequately protected. Hong Kong was later observed to have a significant increase in imported cases.

Are Hongkongers allowed to apply for Chinese naturalization? If so, how? It’s been two decades since Hong Kong reunited with its motherland. Although people in Hong Kong were probably thrilled at the prospect of independence from colonial rule, they should also be proud of their new Chinese passport. This document symbolizes Hong Kong’s unique identity since reuniting with the motherland.

Hong Kong passports are British National Overseas (BNO) passports.

People born in Hong Kong after 1997 are eligible for new Hong Kong SAR passports. However, China will no longer recognize them as valid travel documents or proof of identity. The announcement comes amid heightened tensions with the United Kingdom, which offers a path to citizenship and residency for residents of Hong Kong. Britain plans to start accepting applications for special BNO visas late Sunday. Despite a lack of certainty about future immigration trends, the move to extend the rights of BNO passport holders may lead to more acceptance among U.K. allies.

Those with BNO passports can visit the U.K. for up to 6 months without a visa. This privilege is also extended to regular Hong Kong passport holders without BNO status. It extends to citizens of 55 other countries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. The new British passport will be available in January 2021. The number of people expected to apply for BNO visas will reach 300,000 within five years.

The British National Overseas passport, or BNO, was once considered an obsolete travel document until the Hong Kong government confirmed the Reuters report. It is now the latest battleground for Hong Kong citizenship between China and the United Kingdom. Britain wants Hong Kong residents to have their passports to increase their influence on Hong Kong’s future. However, many people do not understand this.

The British government opened a particular visa scheme for BNO holders earlier this year. You can migrate to the U.K. without a visa if you have a B.N. (O) passport. The government’s website lists countries that accept BNOs. For example, the British government recently opened a scheme that allows Hong Kong passport holders to stay in the U.K. for five years. If you are lucky, you can stay in the U.K. for at least twelve months afterward.

Hong Kong residents with foreign passports can apply for naturalization as a Chinese national

Foreign passport holders in Hong Kong are entitled to apply for naturalization if they wish to become Chinese citizens. However, there are several requirements to apply for naturalization, including renunciation of the previous nationality. A successful applicant is granted all rights and privileges that a Chinese national enjoys at birth. Therefore, it is essential to follow all procedures carefully and understand the consequences before proceeding.

China has a stricter policy toward dual citizenship, and it is not unusual for some of the city’s wealthiest people to secretly hold a foreign passport. But the U.K. is now opening its doors to Hong Kong residents with foreign keys, giving them a more extended stay in the country and a path to citizenship. Britain is also encouraging people to move to its territory, with plans to grant citizenship to 3 million or more residents.

As part of the naturalization process, applicants must complete the CNL and declare their change of nationality. Applicants may take the Achievement-based Points Test (APT) if they have demonstrated exceptional achievement. Once the minimum passing mark for the test is reached, the Immigration Department will proceed to the selection exercise. In addition to the CNL, applicants must present proof of their net worth and professional achievements demonstrating that they have the resources to support themselves and their dependents in the country.

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Naturalization as a Chinese national requires a solid connection to the country. This may come from marriage, the ability to speak the language, or ownership of property in Hong Kong. Non-ethnic Chinese citizens can also apply for naturalization. They need to have at least seven years of residency in the country. However, the chances of becoming a Chinese national are slim without relatives.

B.N. (O) passports stipulated that their holders had «the right of abode in Hong Kong.»

When China was unsure about the future of Hong Kong, Britain introduced three categories of citizenship. British subjects in Hong Kong became British Dependent Territories citizens but did not have the right of abode in the U.K. China also clarified that all Hong Kong residents were «Chinese nationals» from 1982 to 1984. After 1997, China did not recognize dual nationality for British citizens.

Although Chinese officials were concerned about the city’s reversion, they have refrained from making any pronouncements or becoming involved in Hong Kong affairs. Until now, Beijing has stayed away from addressing Hong Kong’s political issues directly and has resisted efforts to target political and NGO leaders. Despite concerns, freedom of association and assembly remains a fundamental human right in Hong Kong.

B.N. (O) passports were issued on the condition that their holders had «the right of habitation in Hong Kong.» This provision has since been deleted. In the meantime, the incoming administration has made numerous arrangements to resolve the legal situation. Hong Kong residents have welcomed the changes to the law and look forward to its implementation. If you are in the market for a new passport, consider one of these three options.

After transferring the B.N. (O) passports, the U.K. government has offered a path to citizenship for Hong Kong citizens. This is a positive step. The decision will allow those who hold the B.N. (O) passports to stay in Hong Kong and enjoy the benefits of citizenship. But the HKSAR government has not yet responded to the ILO’s request for comment.

Hong Kong residents with foreign passports can apply for a BNO visa.

The U.K. Government has launched a new scheme for Hong Kong residents with British National Overseas (BNO) passports. Under this scheme, Hong Kong residents can visit the U.K. and work, study, and live in Britain for up to five years. The British National Overseas scheme has recently been extended to include spouses and children born after July 1997. Although the system is now closed for applications, the process is not yet over.

The BNO visa was not in much use before 2020. It allowed Hong Kong residents to visit and work in the U.K. without a permit and the ability to apply for British citizenship later. However, as Hong Kong politics worsened, the BNO visa became a lifeline. High-profile activists and ordinary people could now consider emigrating to the U.K. without fear of being deported.

After a qualifying five-year period, Hong Kong residents with a BNO visa can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the U.K. To qualify for this, Hong Kong BNO visa holders must have lived in the U.K. continuously for five years, during which time they have not been absent from the country for more than 180 days in twelve months. As such, their status may change depending on the U.K. immigration policy at the time of applying for a BNO visa.

After the end of January, BNO passports will no longer be valid. The Hong Kong government reserves the right to take further steps if necessary. However, until then, Hong Kong residents can continue using their other travel documentation to enter mainland China. While they would not usually need a BNO passport, it may come in handy if they plan to visit the U.K. or another country.

B.N. (O) passport holders can also hold Hong Kong passports

While B.N. (O) passport holders can hold Hong Kong passports, a new law has been proposed to ban subversion, terrorism, and acts of secession in the territory. If passed, the law would also ban foreign interference and terrorism. It is unclear how the proposed changes will affect existing Hong Kong passport holders. But Hong Kong Watch has welcomed the new rules, saying they give everyone in Hong Kong an «insurance policy» against the erosion of their rights. While many Hongkongers held the new legislation, some have raised concerns about the eligibility of young pro-democracy activists without B.N. (O) status or their parents who do not wish to move to the U.K.

B.N. (O) passport holders can also apply to renew their Hong Kong passports in Hong Kong. In the past, the British government had issued B.N. (O) passports to people with British nationality as a condition of residency. However, a B.N. (O) passport holder cannot abode in the U.K., as this country’s law does not recognize BNO passport holders as British citizens.

Those who have applied for B.N. (O) status before handover would be granted a special visa. With this visa, Hong Kong residents could study, work, and reside in the U.K. for five years. After one year, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship. However, the U.K. government is also concerned about the potential for political instability as it may put Hong Kong residents in an awkward position.

People who hold British National (Overseas) passports can also hold Hong Kong passports. The British National (Overseas) passport has a limited period of validity. British passport holders who live in Hong Kong can apply for a Hong Kong passport in the meantime. They will have to wait until 30 June 1997 before their visa expires to use it. Once this restriction is lifted, Hong Kong residents no longer require a British passport.

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