A man wearing a protective mask stands on the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, facing Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
A survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong found that 42% of the respondents are considering or planning to leave Hong Kong, and more than half of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the controversial national security laws imposed by China.
Various media have reported anecdotes about people or companies who left Hong Kong after Beijing̵
Last year, China bypassed the Hong Kong legislature and enacted a national security law. The law was implemented after widespread democratic protests in 2019 rocked the financial center and caused damage to its economy. Hong Kong is a former British colony and returned to China in 1997.
Between May 5 and May 9, the Chamber of Commerce collected 325 anonymous questionnaires, accounting for 24% of the total number of surveys.
Approximately 78% of the interviewees were foreigners who lived and worked in Hong Kong but did not come from there.
Among those planning to move out of the city:
- 3% said they intend to do so immediately.
- 10% said that before the end of summer.
- 15% of respondents said it was at the end of the year.
- 48% said they plan to leave in the next three to five years.
- The remaining 24% said they can transfer work and/or family as soon as possible.
About 62.3% of those considering leaving their jobs cited the National Security Law (NSL) as the reason.
An anonymous respondent to the Amcham survey said: “Before, I never worried about what I said or wrote when I was in Hong Kong.”
The person familiar with the matter said: “With the National Security Agency, the situation has changed. The red line is vague and seems arbitrary. I don’t want to continue to worry about saying or writing things that might unknowingly lead to my arrest. “
Hong Kong is governed by a special framework that should ensure that Hong Kong has limited autonomy, including legislation and independent judicial power.
The Hong Kong government said that last year’s law was aimed at “a very small number of criminals who threatened national security.” It insisted that the legislation “will not affect the legal rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents.”
Some critics disagree. Former pro-democracy lawmaker Emily Lau told CNBC last month that Hong Kong people have become “distressed” and “disillusioned” because some people fear that Hong Kong has lost important freedoms.
However, in the Amcham survey, only a very small number of respondents (about 58%) said they did not plan to leave Hong Kong. Among them, about 76.8% believed that the quality of life in the city was good, while about 55.1% said that the business environment was good.
An interviewee said: “Although we plan to stay temporarily, given that recent political changes have made Hong Kong less attractive, we are not sure about long-term development.”