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July 1995, Volume 2, Number 7

Countries Lure Hong Kong Migrants

Singapore and Taiwan are trying to lure Hong Kong residents who want to leave the territory prior to 1997.

Singapore is running a series of commercials in Hong Kong that show happy young families enjoying the tropical oasis. The series is designed to attract wealthy Hong Kong residents to the Singapore. The Singapore government is confident that its strong educational system will attract Hong Kong residents.

There is speculation that Singapore would like the Hong Kong residents to settle in Singapore because its own affluent and well-educated Chinese population is having fewer children. Singapore has almost no unemployment.

Some Hong Kong residents are reluctant to settle in a city-state considered dull and tough on law and order. Of the 40,000 immigration applications accepted by the Singapore government, only 6,500 have taken up residency in Singapore.

Singapore allows qualified Hong Kongers to wait five years before they must physically migrate, which may account for the low residency rate. The government also offers residency to the parents of Hong Kong students studying in Singapore.

In a bid to attract more Hong Kong investors prior to 1997, Taiwan has relaxed its immigration restrictions, reducing in half the required investment rate. Ronald Skeldon, a Hong Kong University geography professor, says that Hong Kong residents prefer Canada to Taiwan.

Between 1,000 to 3,500 Hong Kong people settle in Taiwan each year, many applying on the basis of family reunification.

Many Hong Kong residents are applying to migrate to several countries, such as the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, in addition to Singapore and Taiwan. Because these Hong Kong migrants are well-off, they will see which countries accept them before making a decision. Canada continues to be the favorite destination, with more than 40,000 new arrivals from Hong Kong.

Australia reports that the number of Hong Kong-born people in the country doubled between 1985 and 1991. Australia is now has the second largest source of Hong Kong emigrants, after Britain.

According to a 1991 census, of the 278,000 people who left Hong Kong for Canada, the United States and Australia between 1985 and 1991, more than a quarter settled in Australia. There were 57,510 Hong Kong-born residents in Australia at the time of the 1991 Census, up from 28,293 in 1986 and 15,717 in 1981.

Tom Grimmer, "Rivalry Between Singapore and Hong Kong is Heating Up," Financial Post, June 28, 1995. Linda Yeung, "Singapore calling," South China Morning Post, June 25, 1995. Charlotte Parsons and Quinton Chan, South China Morning Post, June 3, 1995.