- With the recent protests, a few key questions are:
- After the 50 year transition period, will there no longer be “one country, two systems”?
- If there eventually will not be “one country, two systems”, what will happen? Will Hong Kong simply be another populated Chinese city? Will there be no more british common law legal system, separate banking rules, open internet policies, separate tax scheme, etc? Will Hong Kong leaders be a part of the Chinese political community? For some in Hong Kong, being a part of China will be welcomed. For others, it will too much of a life change. For Western companies, they may no longer have incentives to set up business in Hong Kong. Less business, would mean, less employment. Less employment, would likely mean a smaller population. Will mainland Chinese no longer look to migrate to Hong Kong? Or, could the opposite happen, mainland Chinese will eventually move (not migrate) to Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. Having the privilege to earn a Masters degree in International and Chinese Law, making regular business trips as a immigration lawyer, and just out right touring Hong Kong, I have spent a lot of time in the city. It’s fascinating to see the mixing of the cultures, generally the western business community and the local Hong Kong business community. To complement the cutting edge business and legal community, there is a wealth of art and culture. As one person put it, Hong Kong is New York City on steroids. The recent protests in Hong Kong raise the question, what is the attraction to Hong Kong. Why do so many business people, lawyers, artists, and tourists come to Hong Kong? Why do local Hong Kongers choose to live in Hong Kong? As an immigration lawyer, this topic is particularly interesting as it perhaps sets the table for an upcoming migration trend. In the late 1990’s around the time of the handover from Great Britain to China, many local Hong Kong people migrated to Canada for reasons often related to the fear that life that they know it in Hong Kong would change. Since then, many Hong Kong people returned from Canada as things had not seemed to have changed, at least not for the worse, and in some cases for the better. For the most part, life in Hong Kong had a lot of positives. Strong economy, low taxes, good social services, lots of culture, strong anti-corruption rules, and plenty of things to do. Like any society, there were likely negatives such pollution, and cost of living increases. The cost of living likely increased because Hong Kong had become such a desirable place to be. Western Corporations often made Hong Kong headquarters and mainland Chinese Citizens often immigrate for a variety of reasons. Consequently, a city designed for 7 million people became the gateway to China with people and companies from around the world competing for limited resources. What is the attraction? Perhaps it’s the “one country, two systems” model. Hong Kong has been looked at as independent of China, while being the gateway to China. Hong Kong has it’s own rule of law, based on the British common law system that is understandable to western companies, efficient business formation rules, low taxes, efficient banking policies, close proximity to China (just a short commuter train away to the border or a short flight to many major Chinese cities). The Hong Kong system is a way to transition into the Chinese economy.