Extradition bill sparking new wave of migration and capital flight . . .
Last Sunday, two million people marched against Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill, which critics argue would erode the city’s judicial independence and autonomy. The bill, which many analysts perceive as part of Beijing’s tightening control over the city, is sparking a new wave of mass migration to places such as Taiwan and Canada. Some Hong Kong tycoons are also reportedly moving assets offshore. A financial adviser told Reuters: “It’s started . . . The fear is that the bar is coming right down on Beijing’s ability to get your assets in Hong Kong. Singapore is the favoured destination.”
Parallels to the 1997 handover . . .
While it is too early to tell, the exodus could yet parallel the migration wave that took place in the years before the 1997 handover, when control of Hong Kong was transferred from Britain to China and thousands emigrated to new homes abroad, such as Canada, the U.S., and Australia. In 1990, for example, the outflow reached its peak with an estimated 62,000 people (1 per cent of the city’s population at the time) fleeing Hong Kong. Canada was among the top emigrant destinations, with Statistics Canada estimating that from 1987 to 1997225,000 people moved from Hong Kong to Canada.
Preparing for a possible second wave . . .
As political tensions continue to escalate in Hong Kong, some experts are calling on the federal and provincial governments to prepare for a wave of Canadians moving back home. Global Affairs Canada estimates that currently around 300,000 Canadians are residing in Hong Kong. Any uptick in returnees could strain infrastructure and services in Canada, with schools, hospitals, and transportation likely to be impacted, and real estate prices almost certain to rise, particularly in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia.