42% of expats 'planning or considering leaving Hong Kong'

12 May 2021

Two-fifths (42%) of expats in Hong Kong are considering or planning to leave because of concerns about the enclave’s new National Security Law (NSL), according to a survey.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) survey found of those who planned to leave 48% would within three to five years, while 52% would within a short time frame or as soon as they could make arrangements.

Around 62.3% of those considering or planning to leave blamed the NSL.

One anonymous respondent said: “Previously, I never had a worry about what I said or wrote when I was in Hong Kong.

“With the NSL, that has changed. The red lines are vague and seem to be arbitrary. I don’t want to continue to fear saying or writing something that could unknowingly cause me to be arrested.”

AmCham received 325 responses to a survey of its members from 5-9 May – accounting for 25% of membership.

Last year China imposed the NSL on Hong Kong without consulting the hub’s legislature after widespread pro-democracy protests throughout 2019.

The law criminalises any act of breaking away from China, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign or external forces. Anyone – including expats -- accused of falling foul of it can be tried in mainland China or behind closed doors.

While Hong Kong has tried to reassure the world that the law is aimed at “an extremely small minority of criminals who threaten national security”, freedom of speech campaigners have expressed fears over how it may affect the territory’s rights.

Of the 58% who planned to stay in Hong Kong, 76% cited a good quality of life in and 55.1% praised the hub’s business environment.

“I think the tolerance towards non-ethnic Chinese and Caucasians in particular, which was a hallmark of post-colonial Hong Kong, is waning,” said one anonymous respondent.

“As to the NSL, it’s not just that, but also the rise of illiberal values as Hong Kong becomes more closely integrated into China.”

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