Expats in Hong Kong face losing strong ties to the city

Published:  28 Oct at 6 PM
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Expats in Hong Kong are privileged immigrants, many of whom have put down extended roots just as they did in their home countries.

Some have worked in the city for decades and others are relatively new arrivals, but all consider Hong Kong as their home in a way that’s different from expats in other unfamiliar lands. All have the choice to leave should the situation deteriorate further but, should this happen, they’ll all be forced to lose their strong ties to this unique destination. There’s no such thing as an ‘expat bubble’ here – everyone’s a Hong-Konger in one way or another.

Media outlets and blogs in the region have it right when they state everyone should be worried over the present situation, as the temperature of the protests is changing due to the violent police reactions to what began as a peaceful protest against the removal of the right to be tried for an offence in the law of the land rather than that of a very different political structure. At present, rights and freedoms are being denigrated by the powerful all over the world, but peace and harmony are not the results of repression and intimidation.

What’s so special about Hong Kong is the loyalty of its residents, whether expats or those whose ancestors arrived, again as expats, over 100 years ago. All feel the same way about the islands – that they’re unique in their colonial heritage, now morphed into a truly multinational society, and can’t simply be handed back like chattels to their original owners for no good reason. China, of course, sees Hong Kong as a constant reminder of its forced concessions made to Britain in the 19th century, a position that’s not in tandem with its present world ambitions.

For the expats who’ve helped make Hong Kong a world financial hub by their hard work and dedication, seeing China’s creeping determination to take back the archipelago and its world position by any means is disturbing as well as threatening, as it’s the expatriate talent of a century and more that’s made it what it is today. The promise of the celebrations during the 1997 handover is now just a memory, and passive acquiescence isn’t the answer any longer.
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