A man wearing a protective face mask stands on Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront across from Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
A poll by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong found that 42% of respondents are considering or planning to leave Hong Kong, with more than half citing their dissatisfaction with China’s controversial national security law.
Various media reported Anecdotes from people or Companies Leaving Hong Kong after the crackdown by Beijing. And the Amcham survey offers a glimpse into the mood of the expatriate community in Hong Kong.
Last year, China bypassed Hong Kong lawmakers to enforce national security law. The law was implemented after widespread protests for democracy rocked the financial center and weighed on the economy in 2019. Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The Chamber collected 325 anonymous responses for the poll, or 24% of its members, between May 5th and 9th.
Around 78% of the respondents were expatriates who live in Hong Kong for work but are not from Hong Kong.
Among those planning to move out of town:
- 3% said they would do so immediately.
- 10% said before the end of summer.
- 15% said at the end of the year.
- 48% said they would leave in the next three to five years.
- The remaining 24% responded as soon as they could relocate their job and / or their family.
Around 62.3% of those considering leaving cited the National Security Act (NSL) as the reason.
“I used to never worry about what I would say or write in Hong Kong,” said an anonymous respondent to the Amcham poll.
“With the NSL that changed. The red lines are vague and seem arbitrary. I don’t want to continue worrying about saying or writing anything that might unwittingly lead to my arrest,” the person said.
Hong Kong is governed under a special framework that promises the city limited autonomy, including legislative and independent judicial power.
The Hong Kong government said last year the law targeted “an extremely small minority of criminals who threaten national security”. The legislation will “not affect the legitimate rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents.”
Some critics disagreed. Former pro-democracy lawmaker Emily Lau told CNBC last month that Hong Kong people had become “desperate” and “disaffected” as some feared the city had lost important freedoms.
Still, a small majority – around 58% – in the Amcham poll said they have no plans to leave Hong Kong. Around 76.8% of them said the quality of life in the city was good, while 55.1% said the business environment was excellent.
“Although we want to stay for the time being, given the political changes that have taken place recently that are making HK a less attractive place to be, we are unsure in the long term,” said one respondent.