Resident expat reactions to Hong Kong’s continuing protests

Published:  26 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: China, Hong Kong, Money
Hong Kong’s massive expat community is diverse in age, nationality and the reasons why they came, but the vast majority have one thing in common – love for this unique island, its natural beauty and its vibrant energy.

Often accused of living in a protected, luxurious bubble whilst ignoring the island’s local society and only thinking about the money they’re making, Hong Kong’s expats in reality are well-rounded and down to earth, realising it’s the indigenous population which makes the island so special. The expat community is close-knit, mostly because of the difficulty of learning Cantonese, and all are sad about the present protests and their effects on the lives of the local people. Many are moved and distressed by the bravery and determination of Hong Kongers, and have joined the protests in support of their ideals as well as an awareness of the effect the despised bill would have on the expat community as well as the locals.

The majority of Hong Kong’s expats are following the arguments and events closely and are, in the main, supportive of the struggle to keep the island’s current freedoms. Sadly, objective expatriates aren’t seeing any prospect in calls for enhanced democracy. Life goes on as normal for most expats, but with a backdrop of the possible long-term effects on job security and the economy in general. Staying or going is the subject of much discussion, based on a possible economic backlash should the protests continue for an extended time. Even a community which earns serious money could well be affected in the long-term, with freelancers and some small business owners already feeling the pinch.

As China continues its clampdown, Hong Kong’s reputation for safety is beginning to be threatened, even although violence during the protests is mostly confined to small areas. For long-stay expats, it’s an emotional roller coaster, with positivity suffering along with those caught up in the police violence. Many expatriates have married and raised families in the city, and are now determined not to be forced out by the present situation, but others are concerned about pressure from China and are reluctantly making plans to move on. At best, the protests have caused a good number of resident foreigners to look more closely at China and its ambitions for Asia and decide on their next moves, however reluctant they may be to leave, whilst others are letting the world know their opinions by joining in the protests.
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