What next for expat professionals in Hong Kong?

Published:  17 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Canada, China, Hong Kong
As the Hong Kong protests continue, what does the expat community think?

Some half a million non-Chinese expats from a variety of world countries are living and working on the tiny Hong Kong archipelago, the majority of whom are well aware of the global consequences should China decide to put a stop to the increasingly violent demonstrations. Most expats have tended to ignore Hong Kong’s politics as regards its relationship with China, but most now admit the situation may end the former British colony’s reputation as a world financial hub.

Hong Kong’s expatriate community holds a diverse selection of ages and nationalities, all of whom have their stories of everything from decades of residency to short-term contracts. All agree the vibrant city with its dramatic backdrop and stunningly lovely natural environment is their much-loved home, and all appreciate the privilege of being allowed to live and work there. Hong Kong’s expats are often accused of a failure to integrate into local society, a fair comment as Cantonese is desperately difficult to learn!

All are aware Hong Kong is now a creation of its local people, and all are genuinely sad by the city’s state over the past several months, with the feelings not only down to self-interest. Long-stayers in particular are moved by the courage of the massed protestors during the first several months, and are also aware a number of expats joined in as the now-cancelled extradition bill was a threat to all residents in the city. In addition, many expats also support greater democracy in Hong Kong, highly unlikely now or in the future.

The expat dilemma nowadays is a choice between staying or going, with some already planning a move to Singapore, and some are already there due to real fears about job security and the long-term economic effects of the protests. Already, expat SMEs and freelancers are feeling the pinch. Another disturbing aspect of the situation is the feeling that Hong Kong is no longer the safe haven it used to be. At present, the violence has been confined to smaller areas where it’s easier to control, but everyone fears its escalation as well as eventual retaliation by the Chinese military across the bay.
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