tirsdag 11. mai 2021

As Beijing tightens its grip, Hong Kong becomes a fading attraction

In a recent casual conversation, a diplomat due to retire later this year told me that he had originally intended to remain in Hong Kong and join the private sector. But now, he said, “that is clearly impossible.” Hong Kong is changing so much that it is quickly becoming unrecognizable. Its still-sizeable expatriate community includes many people who came intending to stay for two or three years and ended up staying their whole lives.

But with China tightening its grip over the former British colony, Hong Kong is losing much of its old attraction. And more than 100,000 are uprooting themselves this year and moving. Many are going to Britain, which has offered about 5.5 million of the territory’s 7.5 million people the right to resettle and become citizens if they so choose, but others have gone to countries such as Canada and Australia, which have also put out the welcome mat for Hong Kongers.

At dinner tables around Hong Kong, conversations inevitably turn to the question of whether to stay or go. If the decision is to go, the discussion moves to the pros and cons of the country being considered, its tax rate, health care, schools and other issues.