Friday 4 February 2022

Hong Kongers are struggling to get their cats and dogs out of Hong Kong in a mass exodus because of Beijing's crackdown

NEWS AND COMMENT-HONG KONG: The world has heard about Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kongers for being too democratic. China is in breach of the treaty with the UK to allow democracy to exist in Hong Kong until 2047. They unilaterally decided that the agreement was over and jumped the gun and imposed their version of democracy in Hong Kong much too soon which has forced many thousands of Hong Kongers to leave. They have to get out. Their freedoms including freedom of expression have been lost.

Hong Kongers struggle to get their cats and dogs out of Hong Kong in a mass exodus because of Beijing's crackdown
Hong Kongers are struggling to get their cats and dogs out of Hong Kong in a mass exodus because of Beijing's crackdown. Photo in public domain.

In fact, since January 2022, 2,500 Hong Kongers have arrived in the UK (or are applying to emigrate to the UK) every week. I think we can expect perhaps several hundred thousand Hong Kongers to be in the UK in due course. There appears to be a bit of a crisis in certain work sections of Hong Kong such as school teachers where they describe a brain drain. Hong Kong has changed massively thanks to Beijing's crackdown on freedom of expression.

That's the background and is causing real problems with companion animals. The problem, as I understand it, is that people are desperate to get out of Hong Kong but they are still in a Covid pandemic. This has placed, as we all know, severe restrictions on flights both incoming and outgoing into all countries including Hong Kong.

In addition, the Chinese authorities, apply a zero-Covid policy both in China and Hong Kong. They have a very strict set of rules in order to squash the transmission of the virus. This in addition, creates barriers to free movement including flight out of the country.

As a consequence, it is reported that some Hong Kongers have joined together, perhaps via social media, to fund private jets to fly them and their pets out of the former British colony. It was a dependent territory of the British Empire from 1841 to 1997.

Hong Kong's population declined by 1.2% in the first six months of 2021 according to a recent census. I believe this is been put down to this mass exodus. 

Businesses who arrange charter flights are busy. Chris Phillips, who works as a pet and medical charter manager for a private jet broker said that: "People want to get their pets back to their home countries and their dogs and their rabbits, and they just can't get them back via commercial routes". 

He is referring to expats in Hong Kong. It isn't just the native Hong Kongers who want to get out but foreigners working in the country too.

A company called Pet Holidays say that they arranged 18 private jets last year and expect to arrange 20 this year. The zero-policy against Covid had resulted in the culling of 2,000 hamsters in Hong Kong. Animal advocates were very much against this because the transmission from animals to people appears to be highly unlikely. It is said that it is not a genuine hazard and therefore there was no need to cull 2000 hamsters. Vets are calling for them to be quarantined. There have been reports that some hamsters where infected in The Netherlands before export to China. And a cluster of Covid infections in hamsters. Some owners have abandoned them.

Update: Feb 4th, 2022: 9 dogs and 10 cats had tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong.  Will this lead to some horrendous treatment by Bejing? They are not the best when it comes to animal welfare.

One company involved in arranging flights out of Hong Kong said that they have seen a 700% surge in business recently. Another private aviation company based in Hong Kong, Live Travel, told CNN that 90% of arrange flights are about relocation. People are on the move with their pets. The trouble is that Covid and Beijing are making it very difficult.

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