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Back to Hong Kong: Return migration or transnational sojourn? - page 11 / 33





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The necessity of return…

A weak job market and limited entrepreneurial opportunities were

primary, but they were not the only factors prompting return. Some

immigrants to Canada had treated their move single-mindedly as a

means to gain a passport and thus neutralise their political anxieties in

East Asia. With completion of a three-year residence requirement, they

could return to Hong Kong in security, a Canadian passport in their

pocket. “If there are no political problems, it wouldn’t matter which

citizenship I have” we were told. In addition to protection, Canadian

citizenship also offered greater flexibility in visa-free international travel.

So, “Before it was insurance. Right now it’s for the convenience”; and

again, “I strongly agree…I find a [Canadian] passport is very, very

convenient for me to go anywhere.”

The fact of return was already registering in Hong Kong media in

the early 1990s, even before the peak year of emigration had occurred. In

December 1993, an account in the South China Morning Post announced

that “Brain drain slows as managers return” (Ng 1993). Over the next five

years the pace of such stories quickened. “Immigrants flee Canada

recession for rosy territory” (anon 1994); “Hong Kong returnees on the

increase” (Wallis 1994); “Brain gain follows tremendous brain drain”

(Batha 1996); “Luxury (Vancouver) homes for sale as migrants return to

SAR” (Lyons 1997); and “Emigrants return home to better prospects”

(Wong 1998). Simultaneously, estimates of the number of Hong Kong

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