On June 30, Xi Jinping, general secretary of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) arrived in Hong Kong to attend a meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of its return to China and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong. Xi highly praised “one country, two systems” as a good system. However, Hong Kong people refute that Hong Kong no longer has two systems and do not trust CCP. Hong Kong’s economic outlook has become bleak, and a new wave of emigration has begun.
“One country, two systems” means that Hong Kong and mainland China have two different systems. In the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984, it is stated that after Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, China shall, under the principle of “one country, two systems”, ensure that Hong Kong’s own capitalist system and way of life shall remain “unchanged for 50 years”, and will protect Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms of person, speech, publication, assembly, association and religious belief.
But today, 25 years later, former Hong Kong legislator Raymond Hui told Free Asia that the freedoms that Hong Kong people used to enjoy have been completely taken away under high-handed governance, and that “one country, two systems” has disappeared.
A poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong last year showed that nearly 60 percent of the 800 respondents aged 15 to 30 want to leave Hong Kong once they have chances.
Hong Kong’s economic outlook has become bleak over the past 25 years since the handover, the Wall Street Journal reported on the 30th, especially for the younger generation, their life has become much more difficult.
Since 1997, Hong Kong’s real estate prices have risen sharply. Many people cannot afford to buy a house. Young people’s monthly salary is also much less than that in the past. According to official data, the average monthly salary of Hong Kong people aged 20 to 24 in 2019 (the most recent year for which annual data are available) is 25 percent less than that of the same age group in 1994 after adjusting for inflation.
In 2021, the latest year for which full-year data are available, the unemployment rate for people aged 20 to 29 in Hong Kong is 8.1 percent, compared with 5.2 percent for the total population; In 1997, the difference between the two was only 0.6 percentage points.
Some young people in Hong Kong also believe that jobs are being taken away by mainlanders. In 2020, according to recruiting firm Robert Walters Group, about 30 percent of investment banking jobs in Hong Kong were filled by local staff, that was down from 40 percent of two years ago. While 60 percent of the jobs were filled by mainland staff and 10 percent by overseas staff.
Hong Kong resident immigration figures show a net outflow of over 140,000 Hong Kong people in the first three months of this year. And a cumulative net departure of 329,808 people as of April 3 this year, calculated from July 1, 2020 (20 months). In 2022, in February and March alone, the net outflow has reached 99,018 people, in contrast to 11,829 people in the same period last year.
One of the immigration hot spots for Hong Kong people is the United Kingdom, where authorities opened British National Overseas (BNO) visa applications at the end of January last year, allowing BNO passport holders and their families to apply for visas to work, study and live in UK. The British Home Office announced last month the latest data, 2021, a total of 103,900 people applied for BNO visas, of which more than 93% have been approved.
1. Epoch Times, June 30, 2022. https://www.epochtimes.com/b5/22/6/30/n13770900.htm
2. Capitalwatch, April 6, 2022. https://www.163.com/dy/article/H49579MR0519ANON.html