Hong Kong Migrants Seek Fresh Start in U.K. After Crackdown

Jul 12, 2021 · 33 comments
Jon (Milwaukee)
Good luck to those Hong Kong migrants. Only time will tell whether they made a right decision.
José R. Herrera (Montréal, Canada)
It seems that for many of these Hongkonians this was like a 'natural' choice having so often shown more identification with the British way of life in Hong Kong than any 'Chinese' one, in spite of the fact that during the British rule no other language than English was admitted at government level. Furthermore they didn't like so much the kind of 'invasion' of mainland travellers flocking to visit the city. They were against the installation of an astounding new train station linking their city directly to Guangzhou through high-speed rail.
Sally Johnson (US/Canada)
Canada and the USA should do the same as the UK here and allow these people to immigrate to their countries.
Bill Whitehead (Maryland)
I guess those people made the right move as clearly they show where their loyalty are. But the HK government should limit their return to HK down the road , unlike those left after 1997 turnover but flocked back with their foreign passports a few years later.
individual 1 (Asbury park NJ)
China is a World Problem . Every country suffered FINANCIALLY from the CHINA COVID 19 VIRUS the nation new and never warned any nation especially Africa .
Eddi (US)
NYT should have more articles talking about how Asians suffered racial discrimination and hatred in the U.S. and Europe. Also how immigrants have to cope with racial discrimination for the first time in their lives. I would think NYT believes in balance reporting.
Ted (NY)
@Eddi Great case for not allowing more people from Hong Kong and exposing them to suffering and discrimination.
Ted (NY)
@Eddi Which is why people should remain in a Hong Kong. Why expose them to suffering?
ian emond (USA UK)
When the UK handed over sovereignty of Hong Kong to China Mrs Thatcher bristled at the idea that all Hong Kong residents would get the right to reside in the UK as rightwing media and Tory party members warned of a flood of people from Hong Kong. Compare the UK's treatment of Hong Kong residents to how those in Macau were all offered full Portuguese citizenship, far better than the UK's BNO offering, after the Portuguese left. Allowing Hong Kong residents to settle in the UK is the least that the UK government can do as it can do nothing to ensure that the Anglo-Sino Agreement is adhered to. Better late than never but still not really good enough.
Philip (Hong Kong)
During the protests some expatriate friends formulated plans to leave Hong Kong. They were unable to because of lockdowns, quarantines etc., or just put them on hold. Now, with peace restored, they are all staying.
MJN (Metro Denver. CO)
The handwriting was on the wall when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China as the CCP had no intention of honoring any agreements made between the two nations.
The Accidental Flyer (Silicon Valley)
Ironically in the late 40's and early 50's the similar debates were occurring across China, especially in big metros like Shanghai: to leave to or to stay. Fortunately my grandmother in Shanghai decided to take the chance and leave for Hong Kong (border was still porous back then) with her kids, and ended up in Taiwan. Those who stayed behind all suffered greatly, and many paid with their lives (starvation during the Great Leap Forward or beaten to death during the Cultural Revolution)
MB (Chicago)
Fascinating but not so surprising to see the difference in treatment between newly arrived Hong Kongers and those of the Windrush Generation just a couple of years ago.
Chris Patrick Augustine (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Why can't the US of A open our borders to these skilled intelligent workers? The brain drain that is occurring in Hong Kong is immense and unprecedented. The big money from Bitcoin is the fortunes of those leaving. America should extend open arms to anyone with a British B.N.O. visa. You want to compete with China take their brains away!
John (Kenya)
I have lived in Hong Kong for two years now. In all honesty, Hong Kong is freer than some of the nations many Hong Kongers aspire to emigrate to
Eddi (US)
Not sure how many will eventually regret when face with racial discrimination and passible hostility. I don't think London is freer than Hong Kong, really.
David (London)
Think you might want to check the beam in your own eye first. Based on USA government reports: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7790522/ I think most Hong Kong British Passport holders will find Wardour or Gerrard Street in London far more welcoming than Market or Stockton Street in San Francisco. The UK government even has a Welcome Page...: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-welcome-for-hong-kong-arrivals ...given the previous debacle over the Empire Windrush, it is the least they should do.
LightmanYL (UK)
An old kind street cleaner was killed the HK protesters. Luo Changqing is his name. I hope the migrants remember his name. A father of two was burned alive by the protesters. He survived after more than five major operations. His name is not available, but I hope the migrants remember the horrific image when he was set on fire. You still have freedom, but Luo Changqing has been deprived of his life by your peers.
BrodyW (Seattle, WA)
Let's see how long before White British people begin chafing vocally at the influx of Hong Kongers, whinging about how they are taking their jobs, they're to blame for this or that, or they're "not British enough." They need someone to blame for their ills, now that the national football club went down in flames at Wembley to Italy. Just watch.
H Nguyen (TX)
In 1981, I arrived to Hong Kong as a boat refugee from Communist VietNam. Thanks Hong Kong for it supported of hundred of thousand Vietnamese refugees escaping the communist for a better life in the western world. Many Vietnamese boat people were rescued by Hong Kong fishermen on the open sea that ended up in England. It is hard to imaging 40 years later, a new generation of Hongkong have to leave their beloved homeland for England. Good luck and best wishes to the people of Hong Kong.
bill (overland park, ks)
Hong Kong is a special dynamic in the world economy. It is so because of its industrious citizens. The free world needs to welcome them with open arms.
Professor (North America)
It is sad to have to leave one’s home to flee political turmoil or oppression. But it really boils down to whether one wants to be able to support democracy or acquiesce to authoritarianism. Ironically it’s not just people from Hong Kong who are moving abroad, many Mainlander Chinese are as well, if they could. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the pattern is reversed where there are more immigrants from Mainland China than there are from Hong Kong in recent years, as opposed to having way more immigrants from Hong Kong before it was returned to China in 1997. It would be interesting to learn more about these émigrés’ true sentiments, than to listen to the praise of China in any public forum.
Eric (New York,NY)
@Professor 155 millions Chinese visited foreign countries in 2019, almost all of them went back home. In 2019, there were 700K Chinese nationals studying abroad, and in the same year, 580K graduates returned to China. Your narrative of Chinese mainlanders fleeing "authoritarianism" does not hold up in front of these numbers.
Chris (Michigan)
Self-exile is the right move for those who prefer the freedoms of the west to whatever the Communist Party of China is offering.
Gordon (Northeast)
Hmmm....declining birthrates in the U.S. Certain cities are depopulating. The U.S. could easily accept some of these migrants too.
Paine (London)
A British born Chinese colleague once told me how proud his Hong Kong born parents were when they earned full UK citizenship. He is smart, well-educated and driven. His parents worked 84 hours a week running their own catering business but he attended Uni and earns more in an office job. The smart and hardworking Hong Kong people would thrive anywhere - the UK’s gain is PRC’s loss.
Eddi (US)
@Paine Yes, but a lot of them just don't want to talk about the incidents when they got spit on or called racist names.
Tom (NYC)
Bless the British. We left Afghanistan in the dark of the night and left those poor souls to fend for themselves. What we have done is even worse than our actions in Vietnam. At least many people escaped in 1975. What does the rest of the world think of our country.
G (San Francisco)
@Tom I have mixed feelings. We entered Afghanistan twenty years ago to go after Osama Bin Landin - but we didn't really understand the culture or people and perhaps- after 20 years and $2Trillion - we overstayed our welcome. Prior to 2001- Afghanistan had ten years of war with the Soviet Union and wars with the British. We can't stay there forever, and hopefully the World is a better place for all our efforts. I do think that the Afghan individuals who helped us, especially the language translators, should be given permission to transit to Guam, American Samoa or Puerto Rico, and then be able to apply for U.S. residency outside of Afghanistan, we owe at least that much.
Good Samaritan (Florida)
God bless these brave souls. I hope they find the United Kingdom warm and welcoming. China's heavy handed tactics are a threat to all who value freedom.
Andrew (Expat In HK)
I understand that lots of people left just before the handover as well, although that was well before I moved here. I worked with one who returned after being unable to find a job in Canada, and he has done well here, as did many others, with all the dire prognostications coming to nothing. I actually only know a few who have left, and one of those is just testing the water. It will be interesting to see how they get on. And for all the brouhaha, I really don’t see that much has changed here. I have read the National Security Law and it is less draconian than the US one. And I have yet to see anyone under any legal trouble that has not been involved in violence or associated with encouraging it, and anyone who lived through it knows how bad that was, with vandalism everywhere, suppression of anyone who dared to express a different opinion, even brutal beatings. The parallels with the insurrection in the US are remarkable and yet many at the NYTimes and elsewhere seem determined to make this out to be a very different situation. The paper that brought you fake “Vietnamese aggression in the Bay of Tonkin” and “weapons of mass destruction”, seems to be at it again. Anyway, time will tell.
G (San Francisco)
@Andrew I question whether it is even safe for an American to visit Hong Kong, Macau or Mainland China. I have visited frequently since 1972 and have always felt like Hong Kong was my spiritual home, because of the rich mixture of Asian and British culture. I'm saddened by the events since last summer and the changes these have brought. I would be afraid of saying something "wrong", even if I didn't mean to, that anything I did say could be taken out of context and used against me. I'm sad- but I've accepted- that I'm uncomfortable with the thought of ever visiting Hong Kong/Mainland China ever again - a place I've grown to deeply love.
Paul (UK)
@Andrew I beg to disagree. I don't know of any mainstream paper being shut down under US security laws.
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