Sat, Feb 17, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Hong Kongers eyeing emigration look to Taiwan

GREENER PASTURES?A survey in October last year found that about 33 percent of respondents were considering emigrating, with Taiwan the third-favorite destination

Staff writer, with CNA

Hong Kong’s political and social environment has undergone dramatic changes since its return to Chinese rule in 1997, changes that have left many there thinking about emigrating.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau estimates that between 6,900 and 10,300 people per year have applied to emigrate between 2005 and 2016, with the US, Australia and Canada the three most popular destinations.

However, in recent years Taiwan has gained popularity among Hong Kongers seeking a fresh start.

According to Ministry of the Interior data, the number of Hong Kongers and Macanese with permanent residency in Taiwan rose from 8,697 in 2013 to 15,449 in 2016, a 78 percent jump.

A survey released by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in October last year showed that about 33 percent of Hong Kongers were considering emigrating, with Taiwan the third-favorite destination (chosen by 12.2 percent) after Australia and Canada (16.8 percent each).

The survey found politics high on the list of why people wanted to leave, with 17.1 percent saying they wanted to emigrate because of too many political disputes and serious social divisions and 9.5 percent citing the lack of democracy and dissatisfaction with the political system.

Another 8.6 percent cited dissatisfaction or a lack of confidence in the central government or concern that it is a dictatorship.

Also high on the list were daily living issues, with 12 percent citing Hong Kong’s crowded and relatively poor living environment, 8.6 percent worried about its economic future and 6.9 percent wanting to leave because of the high cost of housing.

It was those issues that led Miss Tu, a woman in her 20s, to come to live in Taiwan on her own.

She said she decided to settle here because of Hong Kong’s high cost of living and cramped spaces.

“With an influx of crowds of Chinese tourists and shoppers, Hong Kong has become even more packed than before,” she said. “In contrast, you can move easily in Taipei with the Metro and You-Bike.”

Tu also complained about the high living expenses in Hong Kong, mainly because of its limited living space, expensive rents and high eating-out costs.

That was borne out in a report issued by The Economist last year that ranked Hong Kong as the world’s second-most expensive city. Taipei placed 55th.

Tu said she had no regrets about immigrating on her own to Taiwan and has opened a shop in Taipei because she loves the city.

Another Hong Konger surnamed Lee (李) who immigrated to Taiwan as a child, said he already sees himself as Taiwanese, but its cultural similarities to Hong Kong remain important to him.

“Despite so many years having slipped away, I still remember those years in Hong Kong vividly,” he said.

“My mom sold tea drinks in Hong Kong at that time,” he said. “I now earn a living in Taiwan by selling Hong Kong-style tea and soft drinks, all of which are my memories of Hong Kong.”

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