Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday brushed off the recent scenes at the city’s airport packed with thousands of Hongkongers leaving for Britain.
The city’s leader said emigration is a personal choice, and her government held no official position on the phenomenon.
“Every now and then in the history of Hong Kong, there are such emigration trends,” said Lam. “But if you really ask me to say something to those who are seeking to emigrate or have already emigrated, I would tell them Hong Kong has a prosperous future.”
Lam pointed out the national security law and Beijing’s recent plans to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure patriots are in charge as itself the assurance to confidence.
She added the city will have good prospects under China’s latest development blueprint, the “14th five-year plan”, and the Greater Bay Area plan, which integrates Hong Kong, Macau, and cities in Guangdong Province into an economic and business powerhouse.
Following Beijing’s imposition of national security law, some concerned Hong Kong residents leave the city for good, and many of them heading to Britain, which launched the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa scheme – a new route to settle in the country and citizenship for Hongkongers – in response to Beijing’s crackdown on its former colony.
As of the end of March, Britain’s Home Office has received more than 34,000 applications for the new visa, including holders of BN(O) status and their immediate families.
In recent weeks, thousands of Hongkongers departing loaded with suitcases were in lines for check-in and farewelled with their families and friends in the terminal of Hong Kong International Airport.
The scenes were particularly striking over the weekend, as those leaving attempted to beat the deadline for the Leave Outside the Rules status, which allow them to remain and stay in the UK for six months while awaiting the visa application result. The scheme expired on Monday, and those who are planning to leave now have to acquire the visa in Hong Kong before departing.