Hongkongers’ three most sought-after emigration destinations

October 07, 2020 09:45
Photo: Reuters

Call it BAT. It is not the usual technology plays – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – one would think of, but it is the acronym of three hottest destinations for Hong Kong people who fancy emigrating.

That’s right – Britain, Australia and Taiwan. That is according to a survey of Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, which showed that almost one in six people in Hong Kong have already started preparations to live outside Hong Kong.

Some 15 per cent of respondents are planning for emigration, the highest percentage in three years, and a 5.7 percentage points increase from last year, but to me – it might be understated based on the unofficial count of how many times the issue of emigration was brought up in my lunch gatherings.

According to the survey, 23.8 per cent of people opted for Britain, followed by Australia (11.6 per cent) and Taiwan (10.7 per cent).

It is worth noting that 90 per cent of the 737 Hong Kong respondents aged over 18 under this survey had no right of abode outside Hong Kong.

All eyes are watching the details of what the British government would offer to Hong Kong people for the right of abode early next year. From my causal research, this proposal is especially popular among parents with children but without property in Hong Kong.

Despite the high threshold of Australia’s investment immigration scheme, it is still more popular than United States, Canada and other European Union countries because it is within the same time zone with less flying hours.

Taiwan is simply cheap and available and probably demands the least adjustment to living style for Hongkongers.

Among the reasons of emigration, the discontent with the government topped the list with 27.3 per cent, followed by “too much political dispute or political instability (23.6 per cent) and the loss of freedom (speech/media) (19.8 per cent).

The findings were consistent with the livability score in Hong Kong, where it dropped to 49.6 this year from 54.4 last year, the lowest in four years.

One key reason for the low score was simply the tiny cramped space, which accounted for almost a quarter of respondents. Around 10 per cent of the responsents said they would move to China because of space.

All that explains why almost 44 percent of respondents said they would emigrate if they had a chance, the highest in five years.

No wonder we found more people buying British properties than that of Hong Kong and increasingly more exposure in United States equities than that of Hong Kong and the trend of putting money outside continues.

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EJ Insight writer