Warning to Hongkongers amid job, school struggles in UK
Executive Council convener Bernard Chan Charnwut says Hongkongers should think twice before moving to the United Kingdom because it would be hard for them to return after selling their homes and running down their savings.
Some Hongkongers migrating to the UK have struggled to find jobs, homes, school places or a sense of recognition, with a former British banker warning young people not to fantasize the country as a savior.
Tens of thousands of Hongkongers have been leaving through the UK's safe haven of Leave Outside the Rules arrangement and schemes for British National (Overseas) passport holders.
According to the six-monthly report on Hong Kong published on December 14, 2021, some 88,000 people had applied for the new visa route for Hongkongers with BNO status and their eligible family members by the end of September last year.
Chan told The Standard that like previous migration waves - including the one around the SAR's handover in 1997 - a considerable number of people eventually returned to Hong Kong.
"If Hong Kong has a lot of opportunities and then people's lives in the UK are not as good as they imagined, they might choose to return," he said.
Chan said there are many reasons for people leaving Hong Kong in the past two years and that some did so because of their political views.
"These people, however, are unlikely to return unless their views on the mainland and Hong Kong change."
He added that some left Hong Kong out of fear because of their participation in the 2019 anti-fugitive bill movement, others to give their offspring a different life, and others to find a place to retire.
But Chan said he is most worried about those who moved away because of a "temporary loss of confidence" in Hong Kong, prompting them to take all that they have and sell properties to move to a foreign land.
Describing this group as "most vulnerable," Chan said they should try to live in the UK for a while first before completely uprooting their families from Hong Kong.
While saying that some might have been to the UK as tourists before, Chan said holidaying is different from trying to become British residents.
People anticipate a better life but, according to Chan, some of them with skill sets that are not related to technology or health care might struggle to find jobs or even their job offers in the UK might not be as good as their old jobs in Hong Kong.
"Their professional skill sets might not be applicable or recognized in the UK, forcing them to change fields," he said.
Mark Peaker, a former banker and now art gallery owner in Central, told The Standard those who plan to move and start a new life in the UK have to be prepared for all the hardships that come along with the opportunities that the country will offer.
He said some people think the "grass is much greener" in the UK and believe that moving is the answer to all their problems.
"It is a stark reality that the grass is never greener," he said.
While some will find the UK can offer them everything that they want, Peaker said these people are in the minority.
Peaker said new immigrants may experience a degree of welcome to the UK when they initially arrive, but such feelings will wear thin very quickly.
"When you become a person on the ground in that country, you are no longer special," he said.
"You are just simply one of the population who are trying to make ends meet, and thereby you are competing with other people."
He said when people arrive in the UK, they will find that there will be resentment and difficulties in finding jobs, putting their children in schools and renting properties if they do not have a credit rating.
Hongkongers have to lower their expectations for jobs they are going to get.
"Those who are taking children over, when their children do get into schools, they are going to deal with a degree of racism," Peaker said, adding these are not problems unique to Hongkongers but to anybody who emigrates to another country.