More people chose to leave Hong Kong to start a new life overseas in 2016, their number increasing for the second year in a row, the latest government statistics suggest.
About 7,600 Hongkongers emigrated last year, up from 7,000 recorded a year earlier and roughly the same as in 2012 and 2013, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing data released by the Security Bureau.
The bureau said the estimated number was based not on direct calculation but on applications for certificate of no criminal conviction to the Hong Kong police force for immigration purposes, noting that not every applicant was successful in their bid to live abroad.
Based on the applications, Hongkongers seeking to emigrate last year chose the United States, Australia and Canada as their top three destinations, accounting for 2,800 (36.2 percent), 2,100 (27.6 percent) and 1,000 (13.1 percent) of the applicants, respectively, and their total hit a three-year high, Apple Daily reported.
The year-on-year growth rate for those seeking to migrate to the US was 33 percent, while that for Australia and Canada was 5 percent and 25 percent respectively.
The latest data on the rise in the number of Hong Kong residents seeking to live abroad came as the government is caught in the frenzy of preparations to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1.
Cheung Ka-hei, director of Goldmax Immigration Consulting, told Ming Pao Daily that the number of people seeking assistance from his company on their immigration plans rose 30 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.
The number has been increasing since 2014, when the pro-democracy Occupy Movement took place, Cheung said.
Most of his clients, aged 30 to 50, are from middle-class families with children.
They prefer to emigrate to western countries, especially the US, Australia, Canada and Britain, he added.
Besides these four most popular destinations, Cheung said a growing number of people see Taiwan as a good place to move to.
These clients include young people below 30 who want to pursue their careers as well as retired people, he said.
According to data from Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, a total of 1,086 people from Hong Kong migrated to the island in 2016, up 20 percent from the previous year, and another 250 people from the city followed suit in the first quarter, up 7 percent from a year earlier, Apple Daily reported.
Chung Kim-wah, an assistant professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the emigration growth trend can be attributed to multiple factors.
They include the worsening social atmosphere since the 1997 handover, which raised doubts on Beijing’s sincerity in implementing the “one country, two systems” principle, as well as the government’s policies that have failed to adequately meet the people’s needs, such as those related to housing.
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