Many have taken advantage of their British National Overseas status to leave Hong Kong permanently.
by WorldTribune Staff, August 31, 2022
As the communist regime in Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong via its new national security law, more than 140,000 residents of the former British colony have applied this year for British visas that open a pathway to UK citizenship.
As of the end of June, 140,500 Hong Kongers had applied for a special British visa, Nikkei Asia reported on Aug. 30
Hong Kong's population at the end of June totaled 7.29 million, down roughly 120,000 from a year earlier, according to official data published earlier this month August. It is the largest exodus from Hong Kong since data tracking population trends began in 1961.
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The CCP’s national security law, which essentially ended Hong Kong’s autonomy, makes it much easier to punish pro-democracy activists.
“The scope of Beijing’s plans are now clear. This is a constitutional coup. The safeguards which have historically defended human rights in Hong Kong have been shattered. Rule of law has been replaced with rule by law — and the Communist Party’s word is law,” Johnny Patterson wrote in a July 31, 2020 analysis for the Spectator.
Hong Kong saw its population peak at the end of 2019. Since then, the Nikkei Asia report noted, "the number of residents aged under 20 has fallen by 97,000, with declines of 235,000 for those in their 20s to 30s and 84,000 for those in their 40s to 50s. As the Chinese government tightens control over Hong Kong schools, many families with children are moving to countries like the UK and Canada in pursuit of more freedom in education."
Hong Kong residents who were born before Great Britain returned the territory to China in 1997 qualify for British National Overseas (BNO) status.
As Hong Kong was hit by large-scale pro-democracy protests in 2019, which the Chinese Communist Party used to fuel its new security law, the issuing of BNO passports skyrocketed. The UK in January 2021 began accepting applications for new BNOs, which will allow the applicants to eventually qualify for British citizenship.
"Many have taken advantage of this visa to leave permanently," the report said.
As a result of the exodus, the remaining population in Hong Kong is getting older. The number of residents 60 and above has increased by 187,000.
The CCP's strict coronavirus restrictions have also significantly slowed the flow of new professionals moving to Hong Kong, the report noted. In the first six months of this year, Hong Kong approved 5,701 standard work visas, down 70% from 2019.
The Hong Kong Investment Funds Association reported earlier this month that 13% of its members reduced their workforce in Hong Kong, while 35% moved some or all of their Hong Kong operations elsewhere. Around 70% said it was "extremely difficult" to hire and retain foreign workers in Hong Kong.
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