Hong Kong citizens are fleeing China as a result of their freedoms being limited by the communist government, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Post said more than 1,000 Hong Kongers are leaving daily, according to government figures compiled by activist investor David Webb.
Many of the people fleeing are heading to Great Britain, which has offered safe haven and a path to citizenship for some 5 million residents of its former colony.
The British government expects roughly 300,000 to make the move during the next five years, the Post reported. That would be one of the largest waves of migration into the country.
The U.S., Taiwan, Canada, and Australia also are destinations for some of those people exiting Hong Kong. Many elderly natives are saying goodbye to children and grandchildren they likely will not see again.
The Post reported that new measures beginning Aug. 1 will give authorities the power to block people from leaving Hong Kong.
A 32-year-old man named Cheung told the newspaper he began planning to leave after the 2019 crack down on pro-democracy protests sparked by a proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China.
The Chinese communists then imposed a national security law in June 2020 to erase dissent. More than 100 pro-democracy supporters in the city have been arrested.
"Originally, we had some hope that 2 million people protesting on the streets could be a starting point for Hong Kong to become better," Cheung told the Post.
He added that the government’s reaction showed it was "against" the people, and that the city was "not suitable for living, in every aspect, be it politics, the economy or social policies."
The security law ended hopes China would keep its promise to preserve Hong Kong’s freedoms until 2047, the Post said.
Not only could dissidents face up to life in prison, authorities have banned songs and slogans, blocked distribution of films considered subversive, and forced the closure of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, the Post reported.
China also changed the city’s electoral system to prevent pro-democracy supporters from winning power, and barred opponents from public office.
The Hong Kong exodus includes many middle-class families who have taken all their money, and expect never to return to their homeland.
Pension data from Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund system shows the value of withdrawals surged over the past year, reaching the equivalent of about $250 million in the final three months of 2020 and again in the first quarter of 2021, the Post reported.
Citizens withdrawing retirement savings on departure are required to sign a declaration stating that will not return to Hong Kong to work or live permanently.
"They have more resources and therefore want to be able to choose their children’s education," Paul Yip Siu-fai, associate dean of the University of Hong Kong’s faculty of social sciences, told the Post.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said she "respects personal choices" people make for their families, and that the exodus was not a "big problem," according to the Post
"People who are leaving will eventually realize how good Hong Kong is," Lam said during a weekend radio interview.
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