This article was published by the Mansion Global on September 3, 2019 and features commentary from Reaz Jafri.
Hong Kong’s wealthy, eager to escape political unrest that has grounded flights and prompted violent street clashes with police in recent weeks, are eyeing safe havens outside of China, touring homes in London and Lisbon, and consulting with immigration lawyers.
“It’s not people looking to flee, it’s people looking to make sure there’s a backup plan in place,” said Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International, a company with affiliated real estate brokerages across Asia, Europe and the U.S.
Over two months of protests in the global financial capital—home to 7 million people, including one of the largest concentrations of ultra-wealthy in the world—has rocked daily life for residents, and those with the means are creating contingency plans in case things get worse, according to real estate agents and immigration lawyers. Places that offer residency-for-investment visas—as well as the U.K., in part because of its colonial ties to the city—stand to gain from growing interest in emigration from Hong Kong.
Four high-profile Hong Kong families have retained immigration lawyer Reaz H. Jafri to help them relocate since mid-June, when protests erupted over a now-suspended extradition bill, which would have allowed people charged with certain crimes in semi-autonomous Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial.
“Most of my clients are very, very wealthy, and Hong Kong is a good tax jurisdiction that has maintained its identity from its days as a British colony,” said Mr. Jafri, a New York-based partner with international firm Withers Worldwide. “So for four influential families to decide this in six to eight weeks is quite significant.”