On Friday, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists announced that he had fled the city two days after Beijing implemented a new national security law in Hong Kong.
“No Hong Konger is under the illusion that Beijing has any intention to respect our basic rights and honor its promises to us,” tweeted Nathan Law, who has been a leading figure in pro-democracy activism since playing a major role in Hong Kong’s 2014 umbrella movement. “So I bade my city farewell.”
Law, who departed for a still-undisclosed location, was perhaps Hong Kong’s first public emigrant of the security law era. Others may follow him.Subscribe to Eastworld for weekly insight on what’s dominating business in Asia, delivered free to your inbox.
Beijing’s new sweeping national security law in Hong Kong aims to arrest and prosecute those accused of jeopardizing China’s national security via subversion, secession, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces. Critics see it as undercutting Hong Kong’s promised autonomy, squelching anti-Beijing protests, and snuffing out the free, civil society that’s set Hong Kong apart from its mainland peers.
Since Beijing introduced the law in May, thousands of Hong Kongers have applied for foreign immigration documents; immigration consultants in Hong Kong report that caseloads have doubled since the legislation’s proposal.A man looks across the harbor towards the Hong Kong island skyline in 2019. Hong Kong residents considering leaving the city could have ample options for resettlement as nations vie to welcome them. DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images
Hong Kong is especially ripe for a mass exodus given its sizable population of dual passport holders. In the city of 7.5 million, for instance, 90% of the city’s 300,000 Canadian passport holders are estimated to also hold dual Hong Kong and Canadian passports.
As some Hong Kongers consider leaving, a growing number of countries are preparing to receive them. Since the law’s introduction, at least five nations have taken steps to welcome individuals and families departing Hong Kong. Nearly all the measures are framed as acts of goodwill, but most of the countries coming forward are also at odds with China’s