Hong Kong expats now wary about ongoing career prospects

Hong Kong expats now wary about ongoing career prospects

Hong Kong expats now wary about ongoing career prospects

As the Hong Kong protests reach six months, long-term foreign residents are making emergency getaway plans.

Hopes that the Hong Kong uprising would gradually decline have now come to nothing, as violence broke out again over the holidays. For expats to whom Hong Kong is their permanent home, optimism is fading fast and being replaced by the need to make a worst-scenario packing list. Obvious items such as passports, jewellery, family photos and suchlike along with laptops, cash and cards are being listed and kept in easily accessible places.

Foreign residents whose adult lives have been spent in this iconic location are plagued with ‘what if’ scenarios, but are still reluctant to let go of the dream. As yet, some have left but there’s no sign of a mass exodus, even although professionals in the financial sector whose families are also on the island are confronting dilemmas about protection of their children and personal safety. After all, Hong Kong’s streets are now no strangers to fire bombings, rubber bullets, tear gas and bricks.

Some, most of whom are relatively short-stayers in the city, are planning to look for work elsewhere after the festive season ends, whilst others are drawing their own red lines and hoping for the best. Many are certain the prolonged crisis has fundamentally changed the city as a safe, impregnable business centre. The lurking shadow of China and its military just across the harbour is reaching out to cover the island it didn’t want to lose several centuries ago when forced by the Brits to sign it away.

Although there’s no obvious exodus as yet, overseas recruitment is stalling for obvious reasons and banks are diversifying their operations in order to control risks. Some 16 companies are now relocating to Japan and a further 90 are considering the move. Oddly enough, it’s not British companies who’re committed to stay, it’s the major US companies, and it’s long-stay individuals who have other connections rather than just financial concerns.

As it’s been for almost 200 years, mainland China is the elephant in the room now preventing a long-term free-market vision for Hong Kong. China’s been determined to repossess its territory since it was forced to cede it to the Brits in 1842, and many China-watchers believe its return to China is inevitable before the agreed date of 2047. Some are now seeing the protests as giving China the excuse it’s needed for generations, and others are predicting the crunch will come soon.

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