Why should you never leave Hong Kong?

Freedom from Beijing's constraints - Get out of Hong Kong to start over

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Since the mass protests began, more and more Hong Kong residents have wanted to leave the city. We met two.

Author: Henriette Engbersen and Claudia Stahel

Norris Lo and Leo Chand are normal Hong Kong residents. You were born and raised in the city. Now they want to give up everything - and emigrate to Taiwan. "We no longer see a future in Hong Kong," says 35-year-old Norris Lo. "On the one hand because of the economic, but also because of the political situation."

Protests shape everyday life in Hong Kong

She and her husband had been thinking about emigrating for a long time: "The lifestyle in Hong Kong no longer suits us." The city is too hectic and, above all, too expensive. But only the events of last year would have sealed the decision. Both have sympathy for the democracy movement, but are not activists.

Nevertheless, the protests shape everyday life. “When I wake up in the morning, I don't want to have to think about what kind of t-shirt I can wear,” says Leo Chand. On a day of protest, the police would arrest anyone wearing black. "I don't even have the freedom to choose my own t-shirt."

The 49-year-old news cameraman Leo Chand has long since stopped filming the protests. An arrest would thwart his emigration plans: "In order to be able to emigrate to Taiwan, you need a clean repute."

Norris Lo is an advertiser: “Society is divided into two parts. I have to think carefully about where to place advertising. " For example, if a brand were to work with a company loyal to Beijing, it would have to expect a boycott from democracy advocates.

Now the couple want to start all over in Taiwan. Norris Lo recently got a baking diploma. She wants to give up her job as an advertiser and open her own bakery in Taiwan. Leo Chand wants to stand behind the counter and lend a hand.

Requests for extracts from criminal records doubled

There are no figures for how many people want to leave Hong Kong. The number of police clearance certificates issued provides an indication. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of certificates issued rose by around 40 percent to 33,000.

Margaret Chau runs an advisory office in Hong Kong for those wishing to leave the country. She too senses that more and more Hong Kong people want to leave the city. Her company Goldmax Immigration has been busier since the protests began last summer: “The number of inquiries has doubled. I am currently receiving around 30 to 40 a day. "

One year of protests in Hong Kong

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On June 9, 2019, a million people took to the streets in Hong Kong for the first time and demonstrated against a planned extradition law. That is the beginning of the mass protests. They plunge the former British crown colony into the worst political crisis to date since their return to China.

In September, the Hong Kong government withdrew the controversial law. She rejects further concessions such as political reforms. There are always clashes between demonstrators and police. The violence is escalating.

In the spring, Beijing loses patience. On May 28, the National People's Congress passed a new security law for Hong Kong. It comes into force on July 1st and criminalizes separatism and the undermining of state power. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are increasingly restricted. Among other things, flags calling for Hong Kong's independence are banned. On the first day after it came into force, ten arrests were made under the new law.

English-speaking countries are popular as a departure destination

English-speaking countries such as Canada, Australia, the USA, Great Britain and New Zealand are very popular. But Taiwan is also in great demand thanks to its cultural proximity to Hong Kong.

Margaret Chau repeatedly receives calls from clients who want to leave town as quickly as possible. She has to disappoint them: "There is no quick legal way." It could take months, depending on the country, until all the papers are dealt with. In addition, some of the destinations such as Taiwan have still closed their borders due to the corona pandemic.

Run on UK property

Not only the agency in Hong Kong is feeling the increased demand, emigration is also noticeable in the destination countries. For example, in Great Britain, almost 10,000 kilometers away. The government recently eased the settlement conditions for Hong Kong residents.

Now the demand from Hong Kong has triggered a real boom in the real estate market, as real estate consultant Alex Goldstein explains: “They are people with large and small budgets, so the demand for properties is not only limited to London, but also to Manchester and York, for example. »

In some cases, the purchase and move had to be completed within a few days: "In some cases, there was a sense of great urgency, obviously because of the political situation," says Goldstein. The British government estimates that around 200,000 Hong Kong residents will relocate.

Escaped the warrant

One of them is the 27-year-old activist Nathan Law. He left Hong Kong in mid-July and probably not a day too late, because shortly afterwards China issued an arrest warrant against him. Of course he's scared, says Nathan, but he also expected it: “The Communist Party doesn't like what I did and am doing. That's why they're after me. "

Nathan Law is one of the most famous faces of the umbrella revolution of 2014. In 2016 he founded a party with others and was shortly afterwards the youngest elected member of the city parliament. He was arrested for his commitment to a democratic Hong Kong, but was later released.

Not safe in London either

The current arrest warrant cannot harm him because the British government suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong in July. The arm of the Chinese government is long. Spies or hackers could be a problem for Nathan too.

That's why he doesn't want to be filmed for too long and in a busy place when shooting with SRF: “We know how strong China's effectiveness can be. That is why I am vigilant, keep my place of residence a secret and do not stay too long in one place. "

But the student does not want to give up his commitment. Hong Kong as he knew it no longer exists, but the struggle for more democracy does not stop. That is why Nathan is present with his message in all international media. He is convinced: "We must continue to make Hong Kong an issue all over the world, this is the only way we can put pressure on China's Communist Party."

End of "One Country, Two Systems"

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Since the return of the former British crown colony to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed autonomously with its own civil liberties. From the point of view of critics, the Security Act marks the end of the principle of "one country, two systems" that has been pursued since then. It is also seen as a violation of China's international obligations when returning Hong Kong.

Tagesschau, August 13, 2020, 7.30 p.m.

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  • Comment from Charles Grossrieder (View)
    The cultural fusion between HKG and mother country was planned for over 50 years and the PRC will not change anything; even if other forces want it differently. For example, many Hong Kongers have already moved across the border to the Pear River Economic Zone or Shanghai etc., including several of my former work colleagues. According to them, life is cheaper there today and just as good as in HKG, which has actually been sidelined. Scencheng, for example, has overtaken HKG in some areas
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Achim Frill (Africola)
    The GDR showed us how a state that sees its citizens not as citizens but per se as potential criminals, public enemies, rule breakers and inciters has no chance of survival in the long term. If China takes this game to extremes, it will suddenly go under, just like Honni's peasant state. The people of the 21st century cannot be bullied endlessly as they were 100 or 150 years ago. If a limit is exceeded, the system implodes.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Thomas Leu (tleu)
      @ Achim Frill: The Chinese people are controlled by the regime. It may implode at some point. At the moment it doesn't look like it at all. And if there were an uprising in China, it would be dangerous for the whole world again, because what comes after that could be even worse.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from marc rist (mcrist)
      @AF: The GDR was first and foremost economically at the limit and it was not just since 1989. We recommend an interesting, factual interview with Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski from 1991, which is available on the Internet.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. Show answers
  • Comment from Andy Gasser (agasser)
    It is bad how strong the "soft power" of China is now. Disney, NBA, Blizzard and other large US corporations are censoring according to the wishes of the CCP. Politicians like Merkel are stupid and hold back with criticism of China, just out of fear that the domestic economy could sell 1 less car to China. And even when Cassis criticized China very, very gently, a threat came from Beijing immediately. This state is hostile to Europe. Let's see it.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Aaron Nela (Aaron11)
      Except for the last sentence, I fully agree with you.
      It is sad to see how bendable the backbone of so many companies and people is, in spite of their high "values".
      I don't think China is hostile to Europe.
      They just want to push through their goals, as an aspiring great power does. They want to grow and expand their sphere of influence. Unfortunately, China will therefore play the nations of Europe off against each other in the next few years.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Andy Gasser (agasser)
      @Aaron: China is the freedom of expression and speech in Europe a thorn in the side. China imagines the world in the 21st century as the USA in the 20th century.to forms. In this world there is no place for freedom and democracy. So how nice should China not be hostile to a liberal and democratic Europe? Read the NZZ article on how China envisions a future with you at the helm.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. answer from Andre Mahr (Andre M.)
      I see it like Mr. Nela and go beyond that. Like a colonial power, China is preferring to Europe. This is not just about existence or playing off the europ. Countries. It is here glashart about the right to power, buying up industries and enforcing the Chinese dictatorship on the European. Continent. The purpose of the 'one belt - on road' strategy is nothing else. The result can be seen in Italy: e.g. the largest ports are in Chinese hands.
      Agree agree to the comment
    4. answer from Thomas Heimberg (tomfly)
      I also see it the same way as A. Gasser and A.Mahr. I also think the thing is over - the world will be Chinese in 20 or 30 years, the resistance to this undemocratic takeover is too small. China is buying up companies and land everywhere. At some point the economic power will be so great that China can dictate working conditions, ethics and morals to us. And if you are not willing, I need violence, China is already demonstrating today. I hope for changes from within.
      Agree agree to the comment
    5. answer from Martin Hofer (MartinSurfeu)
      Andre M / tomfly: Is that China's fault if Europe is so naive and has sold off important seaports in southern Europe in addition to industry? Among other things, the CH approved the sale of Swissport to the HNA Group.
      After the free know-how transfer in production in the 1980s / 90s, everything has been sold out cheaply for years that can be used to make money quickly. I don't want to know how many properties in Europe already belong to China.
      Agree agree to the comment
    6. Show answers

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