Are protests affecting the Hong Kong expat community

Published:  15 Oct at 10 AM
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Expats in Hong Kong are now living through an unprecedented level of protests against China’s Communist rulers, but how is the seemingly unresolvable drama affecting the expat community?

Started, as are many similar events worldwide, by local students and now spread to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens who value their island’s democratic basis, the protests are certainly making everyday life difficult for the city’s large expat community. Few Westerners are seen in the morass of people, but many are forming their own opinions and making them known.

The influence and size of the city’s expat community is a direct result of its status as a former British colony until 1997, when it was handed over to China. A form of democracy was agreed, including a self governing structure and, in the following years, a huge number of expats joined those who’d lived there for decades.

The expat community is now split into two sectors with differing views of the present situation. Newcomers on high salaries intending to stay for two years or so resent the protestors’ interference in their ability to live the good life and add to their bank accounts, whilst long-stay expats with a history in the city are largely in sympathy with the aims of the demonstration.

The Umbrella Movement, as it’s been named, isn’t attracting much support from the UK government, even although the changes mooted by China would destroy Hong Kong’s network of fundamental rights and freedoms. Long-stay expats call the city their home, and are afraid for its future should the movement be put down with violence.

One British investment banker, the son of missionaries, told the media he cares desperately about what may happen in his ‘home town’, referring to it as his childhood conception of England. He’s staying, no matter what, and watches the protestors sleeping on the street in the early hours of the morning with sadness and concern.
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