Under Xi Jinping regime, over 1% of Hong Kong’s population sought asylum: Report
Unlike China, Hong Kong relatively enjoyed the freedom of expression, basic civil and pollical rights and access to information.
However, all that changed after China in 2020 passed a wide-ranging new security law for Hong Kong which makes it easier to punish protesters and reduces the city's autonomy.
Under the law, which came into effect in July 2020, authorities have clamped down on dissent in the city, effectively putting an end to Hong Kong’s exceptional status under the “one country, two systems” principle that was agreed when it became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China in 1997.
The controversial law reduces Hong Kong's judicial autonomy and makes it easier to punish demonstrators and activists. It criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Since it was introduced, more than 150 activists, journalists and pro-democracy politicians have been arrested, with around half of them charged, AFP reports.
The new law triggered a mass exodus of people as the Chinese government continued to crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Also read | Memorial commemorating victims of Tiananmen Square massacre removed from Hong Kong varsity
Since 2020, about 89,200 people, i.e., more than 1 per cent of Hong Kong’s population, have left the city, according to its Census and Statistics Department data.
In search of basic liberty, the Hongkongers have been seeking asylum in many countries, as far away as Ecuador.
According to Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency, more than 10,000 people moved from Hong Kong to Taiwan in 2020, the most on record and nearly double the number from 2019.
Watch | Gravitas: Decoding China's 'crackdown on everything'
Such migrations continued in 2021, with more than 5,000 landing in the first seven months of the year.
An even more popular destination for Hong Kong migrants has been Britain.
According to data from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 65,000 Hongkongers applied for vias in 2021.
Similarly, the number of people seeking asylum from mainland China has risen sharply during the past decade, from 7,732 in 2010 to 108,071 in 2020.