Biggest ever Hong Kong protest causes concern in the expat community

Biggest ever Hong Kong protest causes concern in the expat community

Biggest ever Hong Kong protest causes concern in the expat community

If you’re planning to make Hong Kong your expat home from home, you should be aware of the present mainland Chinese attempts to tighten its control.

Since the handover of Hong Kong from the British, political turbulence has been a regular occurrence but, now that China’s star is rising fast, this unique group of islands may not be semi-independent for long. China is now resurgent as a world power, with Hong Kong’s local and expat population growing ever more concerned about its fragile existence as a separate entity from mainland China. Many believe its long-established culture and freedoms are gradually being subsumed into its massive next-door neighbour.

Last weekend saw the largest protest ever mounted in Hong Kong, with literally millions of residents including expats spreading out for miles and miles, all of whom were protesting over China’s announcement of a new rule allowing extraditions to the mainland just across the harbour. Sadly, the protest ended as many do, with furious, masked youths in running battles with police throughout the night. The protestors made it very clear they did not trust China’s assurances that Hong Kong’s freedoms, guaranteed in the 1997 handover agreement, would be honoured by the Chinese government.

In addition, the right to free speech would be smashed if China could extradite any one Hong Kong citizen who expresses his or her own opinions. One British expat who’s been resident in Hong Kong for over five years told the media he’d attended the protest after seeing a report that two Canadians had been detained by Chinese police following the Vancouver arrest of a high-level Huawei executive. He’s scared that reprisal arrests may become the norm in Hong Kong should the extradition rule become law.

The protest involved mainly young Hong Kong citizens and millennials, some of whom were obviously hard-line protestors, but all had the same motivation – to keep the freedoms they’d won via negotiation and now take for granted, even although China’s world power is growing fast. How the growing unrest will affect Hong Kong as a favourite for expat professionals isn’t yet known, but concern is growing in the community as China pushes harder for control.

The city’s youth are becoming far more hardline as they feel peaceful protests aren’t working, and the increasing unrest is set to affect the economy. Many expats here are long-stayers and would hate to leave, but should China succeed in taking over the archipelago, there may be few options left as regards staying put.

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