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Property Developers Target Emigrating Hong Kongers

There’s been a surge in social media ads. Specifically regarding emigration and international real estate investments, targeting Hong Kong residents. This is while China seeks to continue with the plan to enforce a new security law many residents feel infringe on their rights.

Property developers and emigration services firms are looking to capitalize on the growing interest of Hong Kongers wanting to leave the Chinese special administrative jurisdiction.

Many wealthy Hong Kong residents are looking to invest and move abroad. Especially since the heated pro-democracy protests started. This drove the city into its first annual recession in a decade.

Further damaging the city’s reputation as an investment hub in the region is the new security law. This is a law mainland China plans to enforce on the city. Also relevant is coronavirus, which brought trading activity to a standstill.

Now, top investors in Hong Kong are anxious about the economic effects that might follow growing tension amid the US-China trade war. This is bad news for Hong Kong’s economy. Investors also worry about the new law that Beijing claims is only targeting troublemakers and terrorists in the city.

 

29, 000 People Exit, Over Freedom of Speech and Privacy Violations Concerns

Amidst a global economic recession, a May report stated that the demand for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) in Hong Kong increased since Beijing approved the new law.

Consequently, big businesses such as TikTok and Facebook swiftly reacted to the news. TikTok stopped its services in Hong Kong. Facebook, Google and Twitter stated that they have stopped their working relationship with the Chinese government.

However, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam maintains that the new law will not take away any residents’ liberties but is only there to deal with offenders who happen to be an “extremely small minority”.

The latest data from Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department indicates that approximately 29,200 Hong Kong residents left the city in 2019 over the protests and the major unrest.

According to Bloomberg and Caixin Global, the number marks the highest departure of residents from Hong Kong in eight years. The effect of such a mass exit of key players will not only affect the local economy. It will also affect the global economy, especially with continued trade wars between the U.S. and China.

 

Emigration Ads on Facebook Instagram and YouTube

Since June, investors and firms have been targeting Hong Kongers with emigration and real estate investments. They used key slogans to attract those planning to leave the city for good. They are also targetting those planning to diversify their investment portfolio outside of the region.

Featured on popular platforms in Hong Kong like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, the ads contain slogans such as:

“Now is the time to consider U.K. real estate.”

“Create a new life in Australia or New Zealand.”

“Attend our free webinar on the path to the United States green card for Hong Kong residents.”

 

U.K. response

One advertisement went as far as to encourage residents to take advantage of the new British National Overseas passport (BNO). This promises to grant as many as 3 million residents a citizenship process in the U.K., an offer that was only available to a select few during the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British government.

The document, which would allow Hong Kong residents an assisted stay in the U.K. for up to six months, has stirred a heated reaction from Beijing, which said that the move by the U.K. is a “gross interference” in internal affairs.

“The U.K. government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs. This move constitutes gross interference in China’s internal affairs and openly tramples on the basic norms governing international relations.” Ambassador Liu Xiaoming stated.

According to NNP Investments, a U.K.-based investment consultancy firm, there’s been an increase in the number of residents inquiring about real estate properties in Manchester.

One of the consultants from the firm, Mohamad Nasir, stated they experienced a 200% rise in the past week. He added that, unlike before, where clients were inquiring about investment properties, they are now more interested in moving abroad.

“They’re saying I’m looking to invest, but also potentially looking to move over as well-within the next six months to 12 months.”

 

Capital Displacement by Wealthy Residents: U.K. More Attractive Than U.S.

Many wealthy residents with an established footprint in the U.K. are moving some of their capital there or diversifying their portfolio outside of Hong Kong. This is according to James Dempsey, director of sales at BuyAssociation investment consultancy firm for the U.K. market.

Dempsey added that the BNO has spiked interest in many Hong Kongers.

“The biggest fuel at the moment is your everyday person in Hong Kong, and that’s why we’re seeing such an increase in inquiries and transactions.”

The spiked interest has attracted even more developers globally. Some are shifting focus from their base market to focus on buyers in Hong Kong. New Delhi-based DLF Camellias Gurgaon usually caters to the U.S. market. It stated that it is the slight political instability and mild anxiety over coronavirus that has “triggered the market”. DLF’s chief marketing officer, Karan Kumar, stated:

“It’s only more appropriate for us to reach out to that market more directly.”

Hong Kongers are choosing the U.K. over the U.S. for its suitable property market and cheap sterling. Last year, however, the U.S. was also a prime location. The current coronavirus crisis, civil unrest, and upcoming elections have changed this status.

According to Kingston Lai, the founder of Asia Bankers Club, Hong Kongers see a “bigger potential” in the U.K. market.

“The interest in the U.S. was growing, but now with what’s happening, in the U.S., people worry about the pandemic and election, creating a lot of uncertainty for investors.”

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