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Back to Hong Kong: Return migration or transnational sojourn? - page 5 / 33





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expatriates with high levels of human capital (Luo et al. 2002; Tsay

2002). Following reticence in the immediate shadow of Tiananmen

Square (Zweig 1997), the option of return now appears more attractive.

But the tale of return migration has itself been complicated by

current transnational developments. Return migration extends the linear

model of migration to a circular model with an imputed re-adjustment

and assimilation to the country of origin. The return has frequently been

anticipated by earlier visits and by remittances that may well include

funds for the construction of a new family house (Owusu 1998; Duval

2004). In this manner transnational connections are now recognised as

important in facilitating return. Nonetheless return has an air of finality,

of completing the circle of ocean crossings. But for some migrants return

migration is less a final adjustment than another stage in a continuing

itinerary with further movements ahead, whether unexpected or, as we

shall see, eagerly awaited.

To understand more fully the motives and implications of return

migration in a transnational context, we undertook seven focus groups in

Hong Kong with 56 returnees from Canada. They were identified both

from personal contacts and from notices placed on the web sites of the

alumni clubs associated with the University of Toronto and the

University of British Columbia. For the latter institution, with its strong

trans-Pacific linkages, the Hong Kong alumni club is the largest outside

Canada. The observations of the Hong Kong sample are interspersed with

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