The sovereignty of Hong Kong was reverted to China by Britain in 1997. Although it became part of China but enjoyed some autonomy and internal democracy due to the “one country, two systems” arrangement between Britain and with China at the time of handover. This arrangement of autonomy and democratic rights were supposed to last until 2047. However, the Communist Party of China had been pushing for a new security law which would curb the voices of the residents significantly, criminalizing acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. “This law means that China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses,” says Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty’s China team.
This is a part of the agitation that is faced by the Hong Kong residents; the economy is shrinking, the government is more focused on linking the city to the mainland than investing in education and affordable housing, peaceful protests have turned violent and are facing police brutality. This has caused changes in international relations with respect to economy and immigration, and a flurry of Hong Kong residents exploring options to leave the city. Skilled workers are seeking to move out of the city, renewing documents which will provide a pathway to residency in Britain, or ways to emigrate to Taiwan, Canada or Australia.
Britain, which had colonised Hong Kong until 1997, announced that it would extend visa rights for all the people eligible to apply for British National Overseas passport, which includes 3 million people, if China went through with the law. The Chinese foreign ministry said that this move violated international law, and that China reserves the right to take measures they see as necessary.
Taiwan has announced that it will set up an office for those who are planning to leave Hong Kong. Chinese government has said that there has been no stifling of freedoms and providing shelter for “rioters and elements who bring chaos” to Hong Kong would bring harm to Taiwan’s people. The island country had housed Hong Kong’s protesters who feared harsh treatment by the law and enforcement since 2019, with its own history of dissension with mainland China.
USA, on a similar vein, has taken away the special economic status Hong Kong had with them, and that the Chinese plans are a “tragedy.”
Many pro-democracy protesters who were on the radar of Chinese government have started escaping the country to protect themselves and continue the protests from their adopted countries. The excessive use of brutal force against peaceful protesters led many people to fear for the future of their families for which they started to consider leaving the city . The same fear is also driving more than half of the people within the age group of 18 to 24 towards exploring the option of moving out of Hong Kong..
Even after worldwide criticism, mainland China remains adamant on violating the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. Amidst a collapsing economy which just lost its preference from a world superpower and living under the constant threat of oppressive actions are driving the well healed parsons to look for greener pastures away from Hong Kong.