Giving Up on Hong Kong

Saturday, Feb 21 2015 10:55 AM

In 1947, my 40-year-old grandfather left his comfortable teaching position in Guangzhou, in southern China, to search for a job in Hong Kong.

Two years later, as civil war raged in China, my grandparents and their seven children packed into a crowded train filled with refugees fleeing to Hong Kong, the war-ravaged British colony still struggling to recover from the Japanese occupation. They were among the hundreds of thousands of people escaping to Hong Kong in the months before the Communist Party took control of China in October 1949.

During the past century, mainland Chinese people have gotten used to leaving their homeland. Many left in desperation — some in search of better job opportunities, while many others emigrated to escape the political tumult that has plagued our history. Hong Kong, which the British handed back to the Chinese in 1997, has been a common refuge.

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Between 1950 and 1980 hundreds of thousands of people came here from the mainland. But recent political turmoil in Hong Kong has prompted many people here, including my family and me, to consider moving away. Hong Kongers no longer see their home as a safe haven from mainland politics.

 

A survey conducted last summer by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, a nongovernmental organization, just as the political tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing were heating up, found that 62 percent of people ages 15-39 want to leave — by far the highest number since its first poll in 1997.

By VERNA YU Feb 18, 2015

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