A Reuters report said Hong Kong saw its highest capital outflow to Canada on record last year, surpassing $40 billion.
The report comes as Hong Kong is facing massive crackdowns from the central Chinese government in Beijing stemming from a comprehensive set of national security laws that effectively stamps out the city’s “one country, two systems” autonomous mandate in 2020.
According to the report by Reuters writers Sarah Wu and Nichola Saminather, FINTRAC tracked $43.6 billion in electronic fund transfers into Canada. The actual amount of money being transferred out of Hong Kong into Canada may even be larger, given FINTRAC only tracks transactions above $10,000.
FINTRAC began keeping records of electronic fund transfers across borders since 2012 and thus did not track the initial Hong Kong immigration wave to cities like Vancouver prior to 1997 - the year where the city reverted from British control to Chinese rule.
Observers have long speculated that the national security laws - widely viewed outside China as Beijing’s move to muffle the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and included arrests of elected legislators as well as other protesters - would spur financial and physical moves from residents who have options to move elsewhere.
Real estate officials in Metro Vancouver have expressed the possibility of a new wave of buyers from Hong Kong in the next few years as Canadian citizens retrench in Canada to escape possible changes in Hong Kong’s education, election, media and judicial systems.
About 350,000 holders of Canadian passports live in Hong Kong.
Some local Chinese-community officials originally said the incoming Hong Kong “wave” may not be as large as what was seen in the 1990s, since the demographic of those being displaced are mainly college-age protesters who do not have a large net worth.
But others also speculated that the national security laws essentially ended Hong Kong’s traditional role as a global financial centre and East-West connection hub, since losing its autonomy relegates it to a role below that of Shanghai in terms of dealing specifically with the Chinese market while making it unattractive for expat capital versus competitors like Singapore and Bangkok.