17 October 2019
Huawei CFO and deputy chair Meng Wanzhou is said to hold multiple passports. Photo: Bloomberg
Huawei CFO and deputy chair Meng Wanzhou is said to hold multiple passports. Photo: Bloomberg

How many mainlanders like Meng Wanzhou are also HK citizens?

Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and deputy chairwoman of Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies, was arrested by Canadian authorities on Dec. 1, 2018 at the request of the United States. 

Her apprehension, which captured the attention of media, has revealed that Meng has multiple identities.

According to a Reuters report, Meng was once a Canadian permanent resident and had lived in the country.

Meng is also a passport holder of the People’s Republic of China and a Hong Kong resident at the same time. There is a possibility that Meng’s Canadian permanent residency is still valid.

That begs the question: how many people like Meng are there in Hong Kong?

Media reports have suggested that quite a number of the sons and daughters of high-ranking mainland officials or prominent entrepreneurs – the so-called “second red generation” – have settled in Hong Kong in recent years.

Many of these young mainland jetsetters also have foreign citizenship, which serves as a sort of a “valve”.

Although it is hard to tell their exact numbers, government sources have indicated that one may get a clue from the results of the 2016 population by-census released by the Census and Statistics Department.

According to the by-census report, more than 2.2 million of the city’s population of 7 million were born in the mainland.

Of these mainland-born Hong Kong citizens, more than 2.1 million have chosen our city as their place of domicile, whereas the remaining 100,000 have kept their mainland Chinese nationality and are domiciled in the mainland.

These 100,000 mainland individuals who are currently staying in Hong Kong could possibly be students or employees who may return to the mainland sometime in the future.

As for the remaining 1,218 mainlanders now living in Hong Kong, they were born in the mainland, Macau or Taiwan, and are keeping the nationalities of other countries at the same time.

Among them, 112 are American nationals, 109 are Australian passport holders, 97 are British nationals, 75 are Filipinos and 87 hold Indian passports.

There are another 689 mainlanders in Hong Kong who are holding passports issued by countries other than those mentioned above.

The Census and Statistics Department has not provided any information about how many of these mainlanders have Canadian nationality.

But by inference, there shouldn’t be too many mainlanders like Meng who are living in our city and have foreign permanent residency at the same time.

It is almost certain that this category includes some rich and powerful mainlanders.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 5

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.