Leaving Hong Kong for good

June 30, 2021 12:04
Photo: Reuters

Just how many people left Hong Kong in the past year?

One reference we can draw is the statistics on passenger traffic in and out of Hong Kong.

Over 1,100 passengers flew out of Hong Kong on Monday, according to the official statistics. Judging by the photos at the Hong Kong International Airport, most passengers took the British Airways to London.

That also explained why we have so many farewell meals – but only few of us posted the gathering photos on social media because of the sensitivity.

Hong Kong Economic Journal quoted David Webb, who put together an interactive chart that traced the passenger traffic statistics. According to the data, over 100,000 people left Hong Kong via air traffic since July 1, 2020 when the National Security Law just took effect. The number is deducted from the difference between the number of people that left Hong Kong by air and the number of people that flew to Hong Kong during the period.

In particular, the number of people leaving Hong Kong has been picking up steadily over past six months, probably because many citizens used the British National (Overseas) passports as the British government started a new settlement scheme for Hong Kong people from 31 January 2021.

The British government said it had received 34,000 applications for the settlement scheme by the end of first quarter.

My personal observation is that people below age 50 were the dominant group emigrating to the United Kingdom, mostly with kids.

Another indicator is the issuance of the certificate of No Criminal Conviction, a prerequisite for immigrants to other countries.

According to the police data quoted by the Hong Kong Economic Journal, such issuance was on an uptrend, rising from an average of 2,000 monthly applications at the beginning of year to an average of 3,000 in March and close to 4,000 in May.

That was consistent with the growing number of people visiting the clinics for tuberculosis test, also a prerequisite for emigration. Most people have to wait for at least one month to get an appointment.

Strangely enough, the local property price held up well despite a substantial people opting to sell their flats for cash. In fact, secondary home prices saw a consecutive five-month surge and housing experts expect further upside by the end of the year.

Similarly Hong Kong stock market was pretty stable in the first half, although Hong Kong investors’ cashing out activities arguably should not have significant impact given the dominance of mainland investors.

We would look for more indications in another six-month time. Meanwhile, keep a tab on your farewell meals.

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EJ Insight writer