Expats in Hong Kong: Are they considering a return home?

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Published 2019-08-23 09:37

It has been six months since the unrest started in Hong Kong. Caused by disagreements over an extradition bill, confrontation between protesters and the police have been never-ending since February in the region. Does that mean expats could be considering leaving Hong Kong? It does not look like it just yet…

“Nothing has changed for me two months later.” Alexandre, a long-time expat based in Hong Kong explains that, while the protests have been going on for six months now, he is still hopeful that things will get better. Two months ago, the French expat gave an interview to Expat.com in which he explained that his daily life had not been affected by the protests although he does feel very concerned by what is going on in his host country. 

And it seems like the general feeling amongst expats is hope that things will get better. Indeed, according to a news report from The Hamilton Spectator, a Canadian news outlet, the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong has recorded no peak in request for assistance regarding administrative processes to do with repatriation. According to the news site, around 300, 000 Canadians currently reside in Hong Kong. Despite the absence of urgency from Canadian expats, the consulate has already put everything in place should anyone require assistance. The authorities have also updated the travel advisory for Hong Kong urging caution amongst Canadian expats living and travelling there. And the Canadian authorities are not the only ones to have worked out a contingency plan. Indeed, reports from Australian and Japanese outlets news outlets also confirm that everything is ready should expatriates need help.

How are expats, themselves, feeling about the ongoing protests? While there is no explicit will to leave, how do expats feel about the situation? Alexandre, our French expat living in Hong Kong, explains that he feels “absolutely confident” that things are going to calm down. “The government is overwhelmed by what is happening but I have lived here long enough to know that they will eventually succeed in making things right for everyone,” says Alexandre. But the feeling is not shared by all expatriates. An Australian expatriate who has lived 20 years in Hong Kong explains that the situation is very different from what she has always experienced in this region and that it is quite scary. “Should I trust the situation because it simply is not what would usually happen or should I be scared that things will get worse?”she asks herself. The mother of three has been witness to a few scary confrontations since the protests started.

But what has been happening in Hong Kong?

The protests started last February when the Hong Kong government introduced a bill into parliament which would allow extradition to various countries including China. Pro-democracy protesters have asked for the full withdrawal of the bill from parliament and following two of the biggest demonstrations Hong Kong has experienced the bill has been suspended. But protesters do not seem to want to settle for a suspension and have asked full withdrawal of the bill. And this is why confrontation between civilians and the police continue.