Monday, 11 June 2018

More Hongkongers Fleeing for Canada

The political and economic situation in Hong Kong is making people leave
Is Canada ready for a second influx of Hongkongers?

The first happened in the 1980s with fears of 1997 looming, but now with high living costs, the reality that China is not retaining the "one country, two systems" promise, and the Hong Kong government doing Beijing's bidding rather than its local residents', many Hong Kong people are looking for the exits, particularly Canada.

There is a 30 percent increase in applications to emigrate to Canada, as official figures show 1,561 people applied for permanent residency there. Currently there is an estimated 300,000 people in Hong Kong who hold Canadian passports.

The 2014 Occupy protests led to more people emigrating
If they leave en masse, it could mean a severe brain drain in Hong Kong, as most of them are from well-educated and middle class families.

The Canadian government has seen 1,206 Hongkongers applying for residency in 2016, 1,092 in 2015, 1,481 in 2014 (the year of the Occupy protests), 977 in 2013, and 963 in 2012.

Hong Kong parents are sending their children to Canada to study even if they don't have Canadian passports.

Last year a record 1,270 Hongkongers were admitted as permanent Canadian residents, the biggest influx since 1997. That contrasts with 630 in 2016.

David Ley, professor emeritus of geography at the University of British Columbia says there was a "clear demoralization" about the future when he interviewed educated Hongkongers.

Geography professor David Ley of UBC
"Largely it was to do with fears of decreasing freedoms and declining human rights. A few were encouraging their children to leave and wanting to leave themselves. I think [having Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as the city's leader] is a symptom, not the cause," he said.

"Of course, for young people, there is also the impossible burden of the housing market. That has also led to some out-migration of young adults from Vancouver, another high-priced market."

Hongkongers will find real estate in Vancouver slightly cheaper than Hong Kong, but what will they do for jobs? A few months ago a friend told me that her friend, a senior HR manager, is ready to emigrate to Calgary, where her husband is from. She is even prepared to work as a cashier in a supermarket just so that her kid can go to school there. 

My friend also wants to leave Hong Kong, feeling the political climate is not promising, but she doesn't have the means to emigrate. 

How can you reassure her and say it's OK to stay here?

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