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People are leaving Hong Kong and here’s where they’re going


They remained firm during the 2019 political protests.

They survived almost two years of pandemics.

However, this year they claim they have had enough.

Residents of Hong Kong are leaving the city in droves in 2022 — not because they want to, several told CNBC, but because Covid restrictions and what they see as an erosion of democratic norms are pushing them to leave.

A surge in departures is accelerating a “brain drain” of professional talent — a situation which hit fever pitch around March, as omicron-driven Covid cases skyrocketed across the city.

Hong Kong’s ever chic lifestyle websites are now focused on Hong Kong. Previously, they were dominated by information about Hong Kong’s finest dim sum restaurants and foot-massage parlors. moving to-do listsGift guides for farewell and other occasions

‘Absolute mass exodus’

Although Carrie Lam, the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive did not respond immediately to our request for comment on this matter, Lam said on April 26Covid’s rules ensure that health and economic concerns are balanced with public tolerance.

Hong Kong will continue to protect “human rights, freedoms”, she added. However, “one must observe the law to exercise freedom.”

The subject of people leaving Hong KongLam stated that it was their freedom to “individually enter and exit”

According to Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong’s population has increased almost every year for the last 60 years. It was 3.2 million people in 1961, and is now at 7.5 million today.

The city has added an average 53,000 residents each year between 2015 and 2019. This is about the same amount of people that left Hong Kong. during the first two weeks of March aloneAccording to the Immigration Department of the City, it is. 

Pei, an elderly Hong Kong resident, stated that mothers and their children fled Hong Kong after hearing about the government policies which separated parents from children who had tested positive for Covid-19. Although many fathers still work, Pei said that some are asking for leave transfers.

Peter Parks | Afp | Getty Images

In 2020, Hong Kong saw the departure of 93,000 people. Then came 23,000 more in 2021. Early estimates indicate that this year’s population will be far higher than expected.    

Pei C. who has been living in Hong Kong since 1997 said that while people may have considered leaving in recent years, there has been a mass exodus in the past six months. Because of the sensitive nature of Hong Kong’s topic, she requested to identify herself with her last initial.

The trigger, she said — one echoed by numerous people who spoke to CNBC for this story — was the highly-publicized policy that separated Covid-positive children from their parentsThis year, earlier.

“Unfortunately, a lot of parents freaked out so they booked themselves the first flight out,” she stated.

Pei believes that between 60-70% and 70% of her friends left the country in the last six-to twelve months. This includes both people who have families or businesses in Hong Kong, as well as people who are deeply committed to remaining.

Singapore: Moving

Pei said that most people who leave are heading to the same destination: Singapore. 

Pei said that “everyone is going to Singapore”, especially for those in law, finance and recruitment.

Kay Kutt is the CEO of Silk Relo in Hong Kong, which claims that people like the simplicity of Singapore’s tax incentives, family friendliness and open borders.

She said that the last three years of Silk Relo’s 40-year history have been the busiest for Asian Tigers, Silk Relo’s sister moving company.

She stated that “we cannot keep up with our capacity.” We don’t have the people needed to meet market demands.   

According to her, families are moving to Singapore. Small- and medium-sized business are also moving. She said that while one executive may have been able to leave in the past it is now possible for all of them. Small companies now “take all the team into Singapore.”

According to Cynthia Ang (executive director of Kerry Consulting), large companies also move to Singapore. She cited L’Oreal, Moet Hennessy and VF Corporation — the latter which owns brands such as Timberland and North Face — as examples, while noting there are more who haven’t made their decisions public yet.  

“We get more calls from our clients who are … sharing with us that they’re going to move the entire Asia Pacific office into Singapore,” she said.

Ang stated that while other businesses are still based in Hong Kong they have been downsizing their operations and moved regional headquarters from Singapore to save money.

Krystle Edwards, an Australian woman who has lived in Hong Kong since 12 years. She wants to remain there. However, she and her husband will decide by September whether they want to move.

“If the situation looks like 2023 is going to be more of the same in Hong Kong — hotel quarantine restrictions, all that sort of stuff — we’re moving to Singapore,” she said.

“It gets so much that it becomes just too much.”

What is temporary becomes permanent?

Edwards said that some people take extended vacations to get around Hong Kong’s Covid restrictions.

Edwards stated, “A lot family members I know went away for about three or four month.” “Heaps are in Thailand — they just packed up and went to Phuket or [Koh] Samui. … They all got villas, some have even put their kids in school there, and they said they’ll come back to Hong Kong in August or September.”

Many ex-patriots returned to the UK for just a few weeks this year. Pei stated that she is noticing that a large number of them aren’t returning home.

Kutt claimed that such a thing is happening “absolutely”, as demonstrated by the sheer number of moves taking place without client present. Silk Relo was able to provide a service that allows an agent on-site to act on behalf of clients who cannot be present at a move.

Goodbye to the past

Lockdown and quarantine policies coupled with a merry-go-round of school closures caused many expatriates to return home — to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and other countries — for good, said Kutt.

She said that deeply rooted locals too are moving on.

Kam Lun Yuung is a Hong Kong born man who said that his family plans to move to Sydney. He grew up in Hong Kong.

“We do consider [Hong Kong]It is hard to go home because of how deeply we invested in this city,” he stated.  However, “the 2019 protests to the current pandemic situation and seeing friends leaving already … made our decision a little bit easier.”

Lisa Terauchi was raised in Hong Kong. She moved away just shy of her 45th year when her husband lost his position as a Captain with Cathay Dragon. Cathay Dragon is a Hong Kong-based carrier that shut down operations in the latter part 2020. The Netherlands was where her husband’s family relocated her and their children.

She said that Hong Kong was “no longer the country in which I grew up, and it wasn’t the country I remember.”

Terauchi stated that she knows friends leaving the area, including some who lived there for longer periods of time than her. Her oldest son, Terauchi, is finishing his master’s degree at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She said that her and her husband are unlikely to return even though they want to keep their permanent residency.

“Is this even worth it?” “Is it even worth it anymore?” she asked.

Some others have relocated to United Kingdom Canada, said Kutt. Both nations launched an initiative during the pandemic. visa programs granting eligible Hong Kong residents the right to reside within their jurisdictions.

Canadian Immigration is available from Hong Kong.boomingCIC News in Canada reports that the number is “1,099”, Even more people are moving to the United Kingdom. more than 100,000 applying to move as of March.

“I was surprised, particularly in March by the sheer number of phone calls. [from] … long-standing old Hong Kong families … they have high net worth, might have multiple homes, they’re choosing to pack up and go,” said Kutt.

Kutt who has been living in Hong Kong since more than thirty years, said that those were the ones which “rocked my core.”

No other place?

Kutt stated that Silk Relo as well as Asian Tigers have seen an increase in the number of moves between Hong Kong and Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

She said that companies are choosing Tokyo, something she found surprising considering Tokyo was historically a destination for Japanese companies only looking to enter the Japanese market.

Ang from Kerry Consulting said that Dubai also absorbs talent from Hong Kong. She stated that this is true especially for American and European companies that have already established a presence in the region.

Pepsi, Unilever and P&G moved people out of Hong Kong into Dubai, she said.

Ang also said, “Saudi Arabia wants to compete for a share of the cake.” “I’ve not physically seen anyone who’s that excited about moving to Saudi Arabia yet … [but]The UAE has many different countries. [are]Trying to replicate what Dubai did over the past couple of years.”