Beijing officially espouses a so-called “one country, two systems” policy on Hong Kong, allowing the city greater freedoms and rule of law, but protesters argue that has been gradually eroded.
A 50-year guarantee of that status will expire in 2047, with many Hong Kongers convinced their freedoms will keep shrinking until the city is fully absorbed into the mainland.
“I think the tightening on freedom will continue in Hong Kong until it’s ‘one country, one system’,” Chow said.
The current departure of Hong Kongers abroad is described by some as a “third wave”, after many residents went overseas ahead of the 1997 British handover and, in smaller numbers, after the 2014 failure of the pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement”.
Businesswoman Suki Lui has regularly participated in pro-democracy protests, but she now plans to relocate to Taiwan, hoping to give her two-year-old daughter a better future.
“My emotions have gone through so many ups and downs and I feel I have endured more emotion than I can handle,” the 37-year-old said.
“I hope she can get a better education, can enjoy freedom, can realise her dreams in the future… I hope she can choose and live in a city with hope.”