Expats still in Hong Kong are forced to accept the end of an era

Published:  30 Jun at 6 PM
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What can expat professionals in Hong Kong do now?

Expats and Hong Kong citizens alike are now fearing the effects of China’s sweeping new rules aimed at crushing all freedoms in the unique former British colony. After millions joined the last 12 months’ daily demonstrations demanding autonomy from Beijing, the imposition of the new law is striking fear into the hearts of all residents, who are now fully aware the unique archipelago and its financial industry will never be the same again.

After Hong Kong’s handover to China, life continued as it always had, with special freedoms from Beijing’s oversight allowing the city to develop into the world’s most successful financial hub. Western expats flocked to the region and stayed to take full advantage of business opportunities and the variety of experiences on offer, at the same time as attempting to ignore the increasing power and wealth of their vast, Chinese neighbour. One leading Hong Kong opposition figure said it all after the Chinese Communist government passed the new law, stating that Hong Kong will never be the same again.

Practically speaking, the island’s special trading status with the USA is now under threat, and its exotic, freewheeling metropolis is suffocating in a cloud of fear and suspicion as any dissent could result in arrest and deportation to the mainland. Over the past year, those expats who foresaw this conclusion have been quietly leaving for other world financial hubs, taking with them their experience of a unique time in Asian history.

Those who remain are unsure as to how to deal with the inevitable, especially as China’s domestic spy agency will now be established on the island, thus proving jurisdiction. No-one involved in the protests knows whether the new law will be retrospectively applied and are keeping their heads down as a result. However it’s viewed, Asia will never be the same again.
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