After its approval by China’s National People’s Congress, a national security law for Hong Kong is due to come into effect at the beginning of next year.
This will likely accelerate a process that has been developing in recent years: More and more people choosing to leave the former British colony.
Although it has enjoyed autonomous status since the 1997 handover, when China resumed control of the territory, it has witnessed a slow erosion of its freedoms in recent years.
Members of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement fear that the new legislation willfurther tighten Beijing’s grip. Many ordinary residents in the financial hub of 7.5 million are also worried that Hong Kong offers little future to them and their families.
Some 50,000 people emigrated in the last two quarters of 2019, a time of protests and escalating violence.
In December, 20,000 people applied to the Hong Kong police for a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction, which is a mandatory document for anybody hoping to emigrate. This was a 60% increase over the same period in the previous year.