Hong Kongers returning to Vancouver after years of population decline, census shows


Ken Tung says he just lately helped a brand new arrival from Hong Kong discover a basement unit in Metro Vancouver for less than $500 in lease monthly, thanks to a reduction by a sympathetic landlord.

“It’s a superb worth,” mentioned Tung, who mentioned he has helped at the very least 100 younger individuals from Hong Kong settle in Canada over the previous three years.

But Tung says he is taking part in a comparatively restricted function resettling Hong Kongers in contrast to Vancouver-based teams, together with church buildings, which have helped hundreds.

“I do know many church buildings and their persons are serving to Hong Kong newcomers. People are donating furnishings and reducing the lease to assist them out,” mentioned Tung.

Tung and others like him are facilitating a shift that shows up in new Canadian census figures.

Data launched this week shows the Hong Kong-born population of Canada is on the rise, with a big majority settling within the Vancouver area, reversing a return-migration development that had beforehand seen hundreds of Hong Kongers leaving Canada.

Experts say the shift is being propelled by a political crackdown in Hong Kong, which got here beneath a sweeping nationwide safety regulation in 2020 after anti-government protests.

Violent crackdowns on protests in Hong Kong since 2019 might assist clarify the rise in immigrants to B.C., some expats and specialists say. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The 2021 census shows a 6.1 per cent enhance of Hong Kong-born individuals in Vancouver’s census metropolitan space up to now 5 years, bringing the overall population to greater than 76,000. It had beforehand been falling for many years.

The enhance of 4,395 accounts for 90 per cent of the Canada-wide enhance of Hong Kongers since 2016, when the earlier census was performed.

Many extra are on the way in which, utilizing new migration pathways that Canada opened up to Hong Kongers final 12 months.

Tung says he wasn’t stunned by the census numbers.

He mentioned Hong Kongers arriving in Metro Vancouver just lately primarily fell into 4 classes — returnees who already maintain Canadian citizenship, individuals arriving on new work permits, college students and a few asylum seekers.

He mentioned their motivations have been largely the identical. “The reply is easy — they can not see a future in Hong Kong,” Tung mentioned.

A girl walks previous a promotional banner of the nationwide safety regulation for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020. The contentious regulation would permit authorities to crack down on subversive and secessionist exercise within the metropolis, sparking fears that it could be used to curb opposition voices within the semi-autonomous territory. (Kin Cheung/AP)

The nationwide safety regulation has been used to goal protesters and political opponents of the Hong Kong authorities.

Hong Kong was Canada’s greatest supply of immigrants within the lead-up to the 1997 handover to China, however Hong Kongers’ presence in Canada had been shrinking steadily for years as hundreds moved again to the previous British colony.

The crackdown in Hong Kong was adopted by the institution of new Canadian migration pathways in response.

But whereas the census shows 2,385 latest Hong Kong immigrants to the Vancouver census metropolitan space within the previous 5 years, that quantity is outstripped by the precise enhance within the Hong Kong-born population, suggesting greater than 45 per cent of newcomers already held Canadian citizenship or another standing.

Kennedy Chi-Pan Wong is a PhD candidate in sociology on the University of Southern California who has studied Hong Kong migration patterns.

Wong mentioned his analysis confirmed many latest migrants have been Hong Kong political prisoners’ family members, mates or colleagues.

There are 1,163 political prisoners in Hong Kong as of September 2022, in accordance to the non-profit Hong Kong Democracy Council, which the Chinese authorities has claimed is funded by the U.S. authorities arm National Endowment for Democracy.

“That really creates a big pushing drive, as we name it, in migration research, that actually push individuals out of the nation,” mentioned Wong.

Anti-national safety regulation protesters march on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020. (Tyrone Si/Reuters)

In addition to the political unrest, different components have additionally come into play, corresponding to Hong Kong and mainland China’s strict pandemic guidelines, says Wong.

He says the COVID guidelines that had inhibited mobility had created concern about doing enterprise in Hong Kong, and the town’s future prosperity.

The inflow seems to be set to speed up, with greater than 20,000 permits for research, everlasting residency and work granted to Hong Kongers final 12 months, after Canada launched a brand new open work allow pathway for Hong Kong residents who’re latest graduates of post-secondary establishments.

Protesters march within the rain in opposition to Hong Kong’s new safety regulation in Vancouver on July 1, 2020. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Some of these pathways solely got here into impact after the May 2021 census.

Wong says that the height of newcomers from Hong Kong hasn’t arrived in Canada but.

This story was produced with the monetary help of the Meta-Canadian Press News Fellowship, which isn’t concerned within the editorial course of.


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