Waves of mass migrations from Hong Kong

Last updated

The Hong Kong Mass Migration Wave was one of the waves of emigration of Hong Kong residents since the Second World War, accelerated by the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist Riots and extending into the 1980s and 1990s fuelled by Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. By some estimates, the number of emigrants was in tens of thousands in this period.

Hong Kong Chinese special administrative region

Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

1980s in Hong Kong Hong Kong-related events during the 1980s

1980s in Hong Kong marks a period when the territory was known for its wealth and trademark lifestyle. Hong Kong would be recognised internationally for its politics, entertainment and skyrocketing real estate prices.

1990s in Hong Kong Hong Kong-related events during the 1990s

The 1990s in Hong Kong marked a transitional period and the last decade of colonial Hong Kong.



Traditional ways of life in the Indigenous inhabitants villages in the New Territories collapsed at the end of WWII. Unable to earn a living in the newly industrialised economy of post-war Hong Kong, many villagers exercised their right of abode in the United Kingdom and left for Europe.

New Territories Place

The New Territories is one of the three main regions of Hong Kong, alongside Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. It makes up 86.2% of Hong Kong's territory, and contains around half of the population of Hong Kong. Historically, it is the region described in the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. According to that treaty, the territories comprise the mainland area north of the Boundary Street of Kowloon Peninsula and south of the Sham Chun River, as well as over 200 outlying islands, including Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau in the territory of Hong Kong.

Right of abode (United Kingdom)

The right of abode (ROA) is an immigration status in the United Kingdom that gives a person the unrestricted right to enter and live in the UK. It was introduced by the Immigration Act 1971 which went into effect on 1 January 1973. This status is held by all British citizens, certain British subjects, as well as certain Commonwealth citizens with specific connections to the UK before 1983. Since 1983, it is not possible for a person to acquire this status without being a British citizen.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

In 1967, a series of large-scale riots erupted in Hong Kong, causing social instability. These events led some of the richer Hong Kong residents to move abroad. Emigration took place to countries in Southeast Asia, South Africa or South American countries. This wave did not come to a rest until the mid-1970s.

Southeast Asia Subregion of Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China and Japan, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

  1. Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising parts of Northeast India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and West Malaysia.
  2. Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies and Malay Archipelago, comprises the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

South America A continent in the Western Hemisphere, and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere

South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

On the 19th of December 1984, the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom signed the "Sino-British Joint Declaration", and validated the 1997 transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to China. The declaration prompted emigration of the Hong Kongers. The British government made it clear that Hong Kong citizens would not be granted British citizenship on the grounds that they were residing in a British colony, so instead, numerous residents sought alternate arrangements and migrated to other countries.

Sino-British Joint Declaration International treaty regarding the handover of Hong Kong from United Kingdom to China

The Sino–British Joint Declaration is an international treaty signed between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 19 December 1984 in Beijing. The Declaration stipulates the sovereign and administrative arrangement of then-British Hong Kong after 1 July 1997, when the lease of the New Territories was set to expire according to the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. The Joint Declaration is currently in force, as reiterated by the G7 powers. Critics allege that the People's Republic of China has disregarded provisions of the treaty.

The Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 in Beijing triggered mass migration in the 1990s. Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms were the primary destinations for migrants at the time. In particular, popular cities for migrants included Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area in Canada, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, and London in the UK. To a lesser extent, other immigrant destinations included San Francisco and New York in the US, as well as several Asian cities including Singapore, which was formerly a British colony. [1] At the height of the mass migration wave, some small states like Cape Verde advertised their passport in magazines. Some foreign embassies [ citation needed ] took bribes for giving out passports, amounting to outright political corruption.

Beijing Municipality in Peoples Republic of China

Beijing, formerly romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of the central government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together, the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Some people had relocated overseas through studying abroad and staying after graduation, while others simply obtained returning residency visa from the destination country, which was issued by some countries with no conditions attached in the late 1980s, and then returned to Hong Kong. Informed estimates range from 250,000 to one million people, with the peak years of outflow between 1988 and 1994 of about 55,000 per year. In 2011, the estimated migration rate reach the peak. In Hong Kong, over 65 percent of Hong Kong permanent residents desired to migrate to others countries, in accordance with the questionnaires originated from Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In 1990, the outflow of people reached a peak of 62,000 people or about 1% of the population. The emigration rate would reach the peak in 1992 with 66,000 people, followed by 53,000 in 1993, and 62,000 in 1994. An estimated US $4.2 billion flowed from Hong Kong to Canada directly as a result. [2]

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

From 1998, one year after the transfer of sovereignty, some Hong Kong-born emigrants returned to Hong Kong with foreign citizenship. The phenomenon is called "香港回流潮" (Hong-Kong returning tidal flow).

See also

Related Research Articles

Politics of Hong Kong

The politics of Hong Kong takes place in a framework of a political system dominated by its quasi-constitutional document, the Hong Kong Basic Law, its own legislature, the Chief Executive as the head of government and of the Special Administrative Region and of a politically constrained multi-party system. The HKSAR Government operates as a repressive dictatorship under the Chief Executive who has unfettered powers to enact laws on all matters, without limit as to criminal sanction, under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, Chapter 241 of the Laws of Hong Kong.

Overseas Chinese are people of ethnic Chinese birth or descent who reside outside the territories of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Although a vast majority are Han Chinese, the group represents virtually all ethnic groups in China.

Human migration permanent change of residence of people

Human migration is the movement of people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily at a new location. The movement is often over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible; indeed, this is the dominant form globally. People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups.

British National (Overseas) A class of British nationality

British National (Overseas), abbreviated BN(O), is a class of British nationality that was granted by voluntary registration to British Dependent Territories citizens who were Hong Kong residents before the transfer of sovereignty to China on 1 July 1997. Individuals with this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British citizens. Nationals of this class are subject to immigration controls when entering the United Kingdom and do not have the automatic right of abode there or in Hong Kong, but all BN(O)s would have had permanent resident status in Hong Kong when they acquired this status.

Yerida refers to emigration by Israeli Jews from the State of Israel. Yerida is the opposite of Aliyah, which is immigration to Israel. Zionists are generally critical of the act of yerida and the term is somewhat derogatory.

Handover of Hong Kong Hong Kongs return to China

The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, commonly known as the handover of Hong Kong, occurred at midnight on 1 July 1997, when the United Kingdom ended administration for the colony of Hong Kong and returned control of the territory to China. Hong Kong became a special administrative region and continues to maintain governing and economic systems separate from those of mainland China.

Immigration Department (Hong Kong) department of the Hong Kong Government responsible for immigration controls

The Immigration Department of the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for immigration control of Hong Kong. After the People's Republic of China assumed sovereignty of the territory in July 1997, Hong Kong's immigration system remained largely unchanged from its British predecessor model. Residents from mainland China do not have the right of abode in Hong Kong, nor can they enter the territory freely, both before and after 1997. There are different regulations that apply to residents of Macau, another Special Administrative Region of China. In addition, visa-free entry acceptance regulations into Hong Kong for passport holders of some 170 countries remain unchanged before and after 1997.

British nationality law and Hong Kong Status of Hong Kong people in United Kingdom law

British nationality law as it pertains to Hong Kong has been unusual ever since Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842. From its beginning as a sparsely populated trading port to today's cosmopolitan international financial centre and world city of over seven million people, the territory has attracted refugees, immigrants and expatriates alike searching for a new life.

The Italian diaspora is the large-scale emigration of Italians from Italy. There are two major Italian diasporas in Italian history. The first diaspora began more or less around 1880, a decade or so after the Unification of Italy, and ended in the 1920s to early-1940s with the rise of Fascism in Italy. The second diaspora started after the end of World War II and roughly concluded in the 1970s. These together constituted the largest voluntary emigration period in documented history. Between 1880-1980, about 15,000,000 Italians left the country permanently. By 1980, it was estimated that about 25,000,000 Italians were residing outside Italy. A third wave is being reported in present times, due to the socio-economic problems caused by the financial crisis of the early twenty-first century, especially amongst the youth. According to the Public Register of Italian Residents Abroad (AIRE), figures of Italians abroad rose from 3,106,251 in 2006 to 4,636,647 in 2015, growing by 49.3% in just ten years.

Britons in Hong Kong

Britons never made up more than a small portion of the population in Hong Kong, despite Hong Kong having been under British rule for more than 150 years. However, they did leave their mark on Hong Kong's institutions, culture and architecture. The British population in Hong Kong today consists mainly of career expatriates working in banking, education, real estate, law and consultancy, as well as many British-born ethnic Chinese, former Chinese émigrés to the UK and Hong Kongers who successfully applied for full British citizenship before the transfer of sovereignty in 1997.

Hong Kong returnee

A Hong Kong returnee is a resident of Hong Kong who emigrated to another country, lived for an extended period of time in his or her adopted home, and then subsequently moved back to Hong Kong.

Chinese nationality law Nationality law of the Peoples Republic of China

Chinese nationality law regulates the acquisition, transmission, and loss of Chinese nationality. The law is based on the principle of jus sanguinis, meaning that individuals born to a Chinese national parent usually acquire Chinese nationality at birth.

Maltese people in the United Kingdom are citizens or residents of the United Kingdom who originate from the country of Malta.

Hong Kong people in the United Kingdom are people from Hong Kong who are residing in the United Kingdom or British citizens of Hong Kong origin or descent.

Hongkongers Local identity for citizen from Hong Kong

Hongkongers, also known as Hong Kongese, and Hong Kong citizens, usually refer to the permanent residents of Hong Kong, in a broad sense. Very often, those terms are confined to describe Hong Kong permanent residents who are culturally associated with Hong Kong, especially through descent, birth or growth in Hong Kong, or other types of deep affiliations with Hong Kong, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. Most people who claim their cultural identity as 'Hong-Kongish' share the same set of core values as freedom, human rights, anti-corruption and democracy. In legal terms, they are usually regarded as persons who are Permanent Residents of Hong Kong and, depending on their nationality, are eligible for a Hong Kong SAR passport. In March 2014, the word "Hongkonger" was officially included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Russians in Germany

There is a significant Russian population in Germany. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered mass immigration to the West, with Germany being the top destination, mostly for economic and ethnic reasons. Russians are the 3rd largest migrant group in Germany.

Emigration from Ecuador is a relatively recent phenomenon, but one that has had a huge impact on the country's demographics and economy. Eleven percent of Ecuadorians live outside Ecuador, primarily in Spain and the United States. Between 400,000 and 500,000 Ecuadorians were estimated to live in the United States in 2003; nearly 500,000 were estimated to live in Spain in 2005. Ecuadorians have also settled in Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Canada. Ecuadorians living abroad remit $1.7 billion to family in Ecuador each year; an estimated one million Ecuadorians rely on these remittances for income. Only petroleum exports are a greater contribution to Ecuador's economy than remittances, which exceed banana exports and income from tourism in value.

Hong Kong Canadians or Canadians of Hong Kong origin, are Canadian citizens who identify themselves to be of Hong Kong descent. The largest wave of immigration to Canada from Hong Kong occurred during the late 1980s and early 1990s, due chiefly to the fear of uncertainties concerning the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997.

British National (Overseas) passport British passport for persons with British National (Overseas) status, first issued in 1987 after the Hong Kong Act 1985, from which this new class of British nationality was created

The British National (Overseas) passport, commonly referred to as the BN(O) passport, is a British passport for persons with British National (Overseas) status. The passport was first issued in 1987 after the Hong Kong Act 1985, from which this new class of British nationality was created. Holders of BN(O) passports were permanent residents of Hong Kong, until 1 July 1997 when Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese sovereignty from British rule.

Emigration from Malta

Emigration from Malta was an important demographic phenomenon throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leading to the creation of large Maltese communities in English-speaking countries abroad.


  1. "As pessimism grows in Hong Kong, so do fears of potential exodus". 23 September 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2016 via The Japan Times.
  2. Manion, Melanie. [2004](2004). Corruption by Design: Building Clean Government in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Harvard University press. ISBN   0-674-01486-3