Amid a continued crackdown by Beijing on Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, Redfield & Wilton Strategies has continued to monitor how Hong Kong residents feel about leaving to live elsewhere.

In our latest polling, a significant plurality (43%) of the Hong Kong public stated that they are considering leaving the territory to live elsewhere. The percentage thinking about migration has dropped slightly, within the margin of sampling error, since early June, when 46% of Hong Kongers were considering a move elsewhere. Among younger respondents aged 18-34, a majority (60%) are considering leaving Hong Kong.

Of those who are actively considering leaving Hong Kong, a significant minority are nearly certain (17%) or reasonably likely (21%) to leave Hong Kong within the next year. A third (33%) are somewhat likely. Around a third (29%) of those considering leaving Hong Kong think it is ‘quite unlikely’ that they will leave the territory within the next twelve months. These figures strongly mirror the results from our polling in early June, when 15% stated they were nearly certain and 23% reasonably certain that they intended to migrate in the following year.

In June, a clear plurality (46%) of all respondents, including those not currently considering leaving, cited political security as a key reason to leave Hong Kong. Six weeks later, the same proportion (46%) of respondents stated that improved political security was their primary reason for living somewhere else.

However, as we noted in our analysis in June, many Hong Kongers are also motivated by material and political concerns. A significant number (44%) believe that a key reason for migrating would be ‘to have more physical living space’, which is consistent with findings from our previous polling – 43% of respondents expressed this view in June. Moreover, a sizeable proportion of respondents in mid-July (28%) and early June (28%) consider that a key reason for moving away from the region could be to gain greater financial security.

Among those who are currently considering migrating away from Hong Kong, a plurality (42%) are considering Taiwan as a potential destination, a slight decrease from the 46% of respondents who were contemplating a move to the island in June.

Interestingly, at this stage, a significant proportion of respondents (41%) are thinking about moving to the UK, which is a notable rise since early June when less than a third (32%) viewed the UK as a potential destination. 

Increasing interest amongst the Hong Kong public in potentially migrating to the UK is likely to be directly linked to the UK Government’s recent decision to allow all Hong Kongers eligible for a British National Overseas passport (and their dependents) to move to the UK on a five year visa. The UK Government’s decision will provide the opportunity for an estimated 3 million Hong Kongers to settle in the UK and eventually gain British citizenship.

Although a relatively small sample size, a majority (56%) of current BNO passport holders believe that it is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ that they will move to the UK in the coming months or years. Only 27% of BNO passport holders surveyed think it is ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ that they will migrate to the UK.

Of those who do not currently hold a BNO passport (a larger sample size), a plurality (44%) are not likely to try and obtain a BNO passport in the coming months. However, a significant minority (35%) of Hong Kongers who do not currently hold a BNO passport say they are likely to try to obtain one in the coming months. These findings provide further evidence to support recent reports claiming that there has been a rapid growth in the number of Hong Kongers filing BNO applications. Moreover, as the British Government has recently announced that “there will be no skills tests or minimum income requirements, economic needs tests or caps on numbers,” it may be the case that demand for official BNO status increases further.

Ultimately, polling across several weeks has indicated that a significant proportion of the Hong Kong public are considering leaving the territory. Among those actively thinking about moving away from Hong Kong, a considerable number may leave the region imminently, motivated both by political and material concerns. Taiwan currently remains the most popular potential destination for Hong Kongers, yet the Hong Kong public are increasingly considering the UK as an option, especially after the UK Government’s recent announcement providing a pathway for BNOs to move to the country.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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