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In the Mouth of the Dragon

Naturally, many people here are extremely afraid of what the future holds for them. They should be. The reality of what awaits in terms of personal freedom has perhaps finally dawned on the people of Hong Kong and that is the reason that hundred of thousands are now out on ...

Iain

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In the Mouth of the Dragon

Naturally, many people here are extremely afraid of what the future holds for them. They should be. The reality of what awaits in terms of personal freedom has perhaps finally dawned on the people of Hong Kong and that is the reason that hundred of thousands are now out on ...

Iain

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In the Mouth of the Dragon

Posted by Iain on Aug. 23, 2019, 3:46 p.m. in Politics

 

I'm about to board a plane home after a very busy seven days in Hong Kong with my colleague Paul, where for obvious reasons interest in migration to New Zealand and Australia has exploded in recent weeks.

Naturally, many people here are extremely afraid of what the future holds for them. They should be. The reality of what awaits in terms of personal freedom has perhaps finally dawned on the people of Hong Kong and that is the reason that hundreds of thousands are now out on the streets protesting every weekend, for the most part peacefully, demanding a different future to that written by the political elite of Hong Kong and China.

I have found even those who have decided to leave Hong Kong are for the most part highly supportive of the brave Hong Kongers who are willing to fight for a different future foisted upon them by a cowardly British government in 1997.

I have to say it is all very sad and although I am helping people to leave I too am filled with great sadness for what I'm seeing here.

As someone who comes from a country where I can think what I like, say what I like, criticise those in power that I might not believe serve the best interests of the country or the people without fear, I know and appreciate the fact that I have a freedom that I have always taken for granted. To see others losing that is not pretty.

The younger people of Hong Kong have always felt they had the same freedom even if it was only as long as China allowed it. The generation that now wish to start families or who have young children have also largely taken that freedom for granted. It wasn't meant to end for another 20 years or so. I suspect they really never thought that it would end but when the government tried to pass a law which meant that these people, even people protesting, could be extradited to China, they realised the future had arrived.

They have lived a life of political and thought freedom with access to the likes of Facebook and Instagram and all those modern social media platforms where they can discuss, organise and if they wish, dissent.  Sadly, those days are very much numbered.

And increasingly they are rushing to the exits but starting to realise that just because they may wish to leave doesn't mean that Australia or New Zealand wants them. To most the doors are firmly locked. They are trapped. And the trapped, I suspect, will fight.

Hour after hour this week we have been explaining the realities of New Zealand and Australia's immigration policy settings and the challenges involved in securing skilled employment in New Zealand or having English language ability good enough to enter Australia. I think it is fair to say many of those we've consulted with who are the cream of the crop in Hong Kong in terms of education and skills were somewhat chastened by the realities of the process of entering one of these countries.

How different this is from South Africa. We continue to be rushed off our feet in that market as tens of thousands of people rush for the door but as they do so at least the South Africans are free to criticise the government along the way and exercise their democratic right to speak out against those that they may not agree with (at least for now). They are in effect economic refugees and because of their linguistic and cultural similarities to the dominant cultures in New Zealand and Australia they are for the most part warmly welcomed and their passage in is less bumpy than it's going to be for so many Hong Kongers.

That is not to say that the people of Hong Kong are not welcome in these countries, only that the challenges of meeting the strict entry criteria are going to be greater for them than for many coming from countries like South Africa or the UK.

I think one thing that is not understood very well by Australians and New Zealanders is how people from Hong Kong are culturally a very good fit for both countries primarily because of the fact that these people were raised and educated in a society very much based on the British model, as is ours; their education system largely mirrors ours, their institutions are very similar, their business practices familiar, their values are similar thanks to our shared ‘British’ history. There is no doubt in my mind they are a better "fit" for countries like New Zealand than some of the others from around these parts. I do hope that New Zealanders and Australians will recognise this when Hong Kongers come knocking on the door seeking job opportunities and a chance of building new lives in countries with similar values to theirs.

Hong Kong is going to get messy. There is no way China can allow the city to go its own way. If the people of Hong Kong are given the freedoms that they are demanding then 10 km away the people of Shenzhen in China might want the same thing. That could easily then spread to Guangdong which is spitting distance from Hong Kong and then I suspect like a fire, ‘freedom’ demands may spread right across China. While I'm not sure that the people of Hong Kong can expect very much help from the free world, especially the United States of America, there is no doubt now that the Americans realise that Hong Kong is a wedge that they can start driving into the heart of China. It is a very dangerous game to play because China cannot let that happen but the people we are consulting with in Hong Kong may well get stuck in the middle and let us not forget, they are people, not pawns in some international trade or ideological war.

Hong Kong is in the mouth of the dragon and the dragon is not going to spit it out. It is going to crunch it between its mighty teeth.

While most people from Hong Kong will have to stay here because they won't qualify to migrate somewhere else I repeat my plea particularly to those employers of New Zealand who are desperately short of a lot of skills to consider applicants from Hong Kong. These are highly skilled people with even more motivation to work hard and build lives for their families. As a general rule our clients do speak a very high standard of English but there is no doubt that some of them are not fluent but that won't stop them doing their jobs and contributing.

Given the values that New Zealanders hold dear and which we share with the majority of people in Hong Kong, New Zealand has much to gain by giving these people are helping hand.

I hope we start welcoming them because they are going to need our help.

Until next week...

 

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3 comments on this post
Aug. 24, 2019, 2:16 a.m. by Bob Elson

Astounding that you can dismissively conclude that all South African immigrants to NZ are "economic refugees". Many SA emigres leave behind successful businesses or careers. Many are doctors or engineers who hardly qualify as "economic refugees." What they are refugees from are a failed criminal state, rampant corruption and general crime and lawlessness that makes it impossible to safely walk the streets. And while many may have jobs themselves, the outlook for their children is not as certain given the unjust racial policies that have been written into law to prevent people of certain persuasions from gaining employment or even starting a company. Hell even youth sports teams must now have a racial quota, regardless of merit. Your snide implication that South Africans are leaving a democratic nation where they are free to criticise the state is also not missed. Is this the same "democratic" government that has pledged to take people's land without compensation? Is this the same "democratic" government that turns a blind eye to farmers being murdered and tortured on a weekly basis? You may be allowed to criticise the ANC government and not be arrested (at least for now) but you will almost certainly be branded a racist or quietly singled out which can severely compromise your social and professional aspirations or those of your children. Worst of all though is watching the same government that brands you a land thief, a racist and a criminal openly loot the taxes you are forced to pay it without any fear of consequence. If anything, South Africans are political refugees. Think of that while you smugly pat yourself on the back for NZ's 1981 tour protests in favour of the so-called "democracy" you think exists in SA. Somehow I doubt we'll be seeing a repeat of those protests today, regardless of what the ANC is doing.

Replies to this comment

Aug. 29, 2019, 10:45 a.m. by Iain
Hi You seem to have missed my point - I was actually saying exactly the same thing as you are in terms of why South Africans are leaving - not too many of my thousands of SA clients have dreamed all their lives of living in NZ or Australia. They are being pushed out of SA. If they are leaving behind a successful career or business they aren't doing it for the economic opportunities abroad - they are doing it because they are being forced out, largely because of the colour of their skin and the colour of their children's skin. That tends to meet the definition of a 'refugee'. You aren't leaving for your political views (you are free to hold any view you like in SA - whether that makes any difference to what happens in your society is another matter) as they are in Hong Kong but there are obviously certain parallels. I certainly wasn't being smug, I was simply saying that as you decide whether or not to head for the exits of South Africa, you are free to call your Government out for their corruption, ineptness, racism and anything else you wish to do - they aren't going to arrest for extradite you to another country that has a less than impressive human rights or judicial record to stand trial for your opinions. As the people of Hong Kong are now facing. Iain
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Aug. 30, 2019, 1 a.m. by Flora

It’s a really touching passage, and remind me that I have to move on. It’s exactly how we feel and scary at the moment. Anyway, really nice to meet you and Paul. Stay in touch ! :)

Reply to this comment
Aug. 30, 2019, 1 a.m. by Flora

It’s a really touching passage, and remind me that I have to move on. It’s exactly how we feel and scary at the moment. Anyway, really nice to meet you and Paul. Stay in touch ! :)

Reply to this comment

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