Tired of oppression and lack of guarantees, full of suspicion and awash with guilt, Judy is about to leave Hong Kong with her family to start a new life in the UK.
In recent years, Judy, a 36-year-old mother of two, has watched helplessly as Hong Kong authorities crack down on calls for more democracy in the former British colony.
When the United Kingdom offered paving the way to British citizenship to Hong Kong residents born before 1997 (when the area returned to Chinese sovereignty), Judy and her husband decided to drown with their two children.
The former public affairs official has resigned from her job and the family is now actively preparing for their planned UK trip in April.
With great sadness he says goodbye to friends and family. Failure to see her 90-year-old grandfather is heartbreaking for her, as is the abandonment of her native language and customs.
“I feel very guilty and very sad, but I don’t want to stay here either because I don’t feel safe,” said Judy, one of ten people who agreed in recent weeks to speak about her decision to immigrate to the UK. France Press agency.
Some did so in public, but Judy preferred not to be identified.
– Middle class –
London decided to introduce entry visas in response to the National Security Act imposed by Beijing in Hong Kong last June.
It is not known how many Hong Kong residents intend to settle in the UK as the coronavirus is limiting international flights and severely damaging the British economy.
Applications for a British overseas passport (British National Overseas, BNO), by Hong Kong residents born before 1997, have increased by 300% since June.
In 2020, about 7,000 Hong Kong residents settled in the United Kingdom.
The British authorities expect that up to 154,000 people could settle in the next year and up to 322,000 in the next five years, bringing with it around 2.9 billion pounds (3.3 billion euros).
For their part, Hong Kong authorities reduced the number of exits and believed that few residents would complete their project.
They also consider that this phenomenon will be matched by the arrival of the Chinese from the continent.
Regina Ip, a prominent pro-government politician, denigrated the departing candidates, describing them as people “without money, competence or education.”
However, the average profile of people interviewed by AFP did not correspond to this description.
Changes in education
Most of them have gone to university, are middle class, have young children and have enough money to live while looking for work in the UK.
However, they realize that their standard of living will be lower than in Hong Kong and they will have to start from scratch.
However, many do own homes, which is convenient because an apartment of 45 square meters is about seven million Hong Kong dollars (about 740,000 euros, about 900,000 dollars).
Elle, a 30-year-old psychologist, and her husband, who works in computer science, plan to leave in two years.
They also have a plan to “speed up” their departure if China decides to prevent people from settling in the UK.
“My son’s future is at stake because the education style is changing,” says Elle, who, like others, cites the education system among the incentives to immigrate to the UK.
After massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, the Chinese government intends to root out dissidents from universities.
The Education Office warned that “there is no longer room for debate or compromise” on national security.
Textbooks are being rewritten to give more space to Chinese patriotism.
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