As protests in Hong Kong stretch from summer into autumn with little sign of resolution, a surge in migration applications suggests more locals are making plans to leave the special administrative region, APA reports citing Reuters.
Their sentiments, reflected in passport paperwork and in interviews with residents, migration agents and real estate brokers across the globe, show the potential for human and capital flight out of Hong Kong.
Since an abortive push to allow extradition to mainland China sparked unrest in the former British colony three months ago, emigration seminars have been overflowing, organizers and attendees say.
Requests for police-record printouts, which cost HK$225 ($29) and are only issued for visa applications or child adoptions, jumped 54% to 3,649 in August compared with last year. There have been more requests in 2019 so far than at the same point in any of the previous five years.
In 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 75 adoptions in Hong Kong, a number comparable to previous years. The Hong Kong government estimates that last year about 7,600 people left the city for good, roughly one-third the number who sought police-record printouts.
Authorities in Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan have reported spikes in migration enquiries, and property agents from Melbourne to Vancouver say their phones are running hot.
“There are many uncertainties in Hong Kong,” one investor on a property agent’s late-August tour of suburban Melbourne said before, laying out A$600,000 ($410,000) for a house-and-land package.
“People like me in their 40s and 50s - we think about our child,” said the investor, who gave only her family name, Lee, because her employer forbids speaking to the media.
“We want a back-up home, a better place to live,” she added. “At least if something bad happens, they have a back-up plan, an exit plan.”
And she is not alone: Lee’s sentiments were echoed in interviews with 10 other families or individuals considering emigrating.
China has denounced the protests, accusing the United States and Britain of fomenting unrest, and the Hong Kong government has sought to head off further trouble by accepting one of the protesters’ demands and withdrawing the extradition bill.
A mass march scheduled for Sunday will test how far that has allayed public anger.