How Young People in Hong Kong and Taiwan View Migration



1.1 Background of Information

The definition of Hong Kong and Taiwan is primarily based on Chinese Mainland, despite the strong association with colonial empires that has marked their histories. The British empires were in Hong Kong from 1841 to 1941, 1945 to 1997 and finally the Japanese from 1941 to 1945(Constable, 2009, p. 65). For Taiwan, between 1626 and 1646 there were the Spanish in the north, 1624-1662 was a period of the Dutch empire in the south while the Japanese were from 1895 to 1945. In both countries, the modern politics is characterized by scuffles over opposed cultures, identities, histories and languages, whereby issues of political representation have turned out to be relevant.

Over the lasts decades, China has experienced drastic economic growth which has led to high rate of mobility and increased internal migration. Since the 19th centuries, the authorities of settler society in China warranted the imposition of immigration regulations as important to control the number of Asian immigrants from entering the country and also staying permanent (Yang & Lu, 2010, p. 28). This rhetoric underwent during the postwar period even with the noteworthy barriers to emigration for the resident in China. From the mid-19thcentury, many of the people having a Chinese descent or overseas Chinese resided in the outskirts of Greater China region comprised of Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and People’s Republic of China. By 1960, Thailand had about 3.7 Overseas Chinese, 895,867 were in Singapore while Malaysia had about 2.5 million overseas Chinese (Constable, 2009, p. 69). Even from such numbers, the high Chinese immigrants within the settler societies and a large number of refugees from Red China presented higher levels of insecurity. It was not easy for Chinese migrants to Mainland China after 1952 due to the policy on emigration. Individuals were required to obtain permits which were issued on a particular occasion for them to leave.

Migration has evolved to be a crucial segment of the modern world with a bigger proportion of individuals migrating across and within nations. For a long time, international migration has been given much emphasis, but research claims that the population of internal immigrants has considerably doubled the international immigrants’ number (Tseng, 2011, p. 20). Within Asia and Africa, there is an emerging trend of the rural-urban migration over the decades. China and India top the list of Asian countries having the biggest number of internal migrants. According to the 2001 census, India had about 195 million immigrants while China’s internal immigrant workers have surpassed 225 million which is a sixth of the entire population (Yang & Lu, 2010, p. 31). Tseng, (2011, p. 32) propose that there will be a higher rate of increase in internal immigration than that of international. The rural-urban migration part will be responsible for the greater proportion of migrants from all directions of internal migration.

The rural to urban migration in many developing countries has attracted a lot of social, political and economic debates due to the rise of problems, benefits and volumes. According to Yang & Lu, (2010, p. 35) has indicated that there are positive effects of internal migration for the migrants and also for development at macro socio-economic. Within the macro stage, internal migration has promoted the reduction of poverty, economic development and attaining the labor requirements for urban areas development. Internal migration within the individual level is perceived as a livelihood plan and a way of reducing poverty for the majority of individuals in low and medium income countries like China. According to the World Migration Report, it suggested that internal migration, as opposed to international migration, has the capacity to reduce poverty, attain the pillars of the Millennium Development targets and enhance economic growth within the developing nations (Yang & Lu, 2010, p. 42). The internal migration has also criticized for continual pressure on public and urban facilities, environmental issues and congestion in urban areas. Within the developing countries, the government has viewed rural-urban migration as a challenge and they have put measures to regulate the flow.

According to the World Population Policies, it stated that about 80% of the 185 countries within the United Nations had their governments enact policies that would control the rural-urban migration. From the 80%, the Asian and African countries which have low to medium income represented the largest proportion (Wang, 2011, p. 54). The negative effects of migration within the micro level are on the different dimensions of the wellbeing of the migrants. For instance, the change of residence from the usual places to a new area requires a lot of time and capital to locate a place of work and shelter as well as build new social networks.

1.2 Objectives of Study

  1. To know whether migration to Hong Kong and Taiwan is a prominent decision among young people.
  2. To divide the reasons as to why young people in Hong Kong and Taiwan prefer or not prefer to immigrate.


2.1 An Overview of Migration in Asia Region

Wang, (2011, p. 59) indicates that the Asian urban regions are experiencing a drastic rise in population and the contribution has been widely through internal migration, mostly in the developing countries. The population of people residing in urban areas in Asia is about 48% indicating that the figure has doubled since the 1970s. The international and internal migration have largely contributed to urban population growth. The high levels of internal migration in Asia are due to economic and social developments in the area over the last decades. (Wang, (2011, p. 63) urges that there has been an increase in population mobility in many Asian countries with a higher percentage emerging from rural to urban regions. For instance, the National Survey in India indicates internal migration has contributed to 35% of the entire country’s population which is about 330 million. The 2010 census in China indicates that the internal migrant workers are more than 220 million (La Croix, 2016, p. 26).

The rural-urban migration is responsible for a greater part of population growth in urban regions, mostly the poorer nations. The Asian countries will differ to a large extent on the basis of economic, social and political aspect, thus implying that internal migration has different characteristics. Nevertheless, there are some characteristics of internal migration within the developing nations in the Asian region. The movement of people within a country is from all types of directions. There is the urban to urban movement, urban to rural, rural to rural and the rural to urban migration. However, the movement from rural to urban regions will account for a greater portion of the total internal migrants in many countries in Asia. Apart from permanent migration, circular and short-term migration from the rural to towns is very popular in many developing countries in Asia Tseng, 2011, p. 61). Permanent migration is mainly recorded in the national statistical database while circular and short-term migration is not recorded because of the method of sampling in much national research. For instance, in China and Vietnam, the population census refer to migrants as individuals who shift from their residence for more than five years. This definition does not encompass circular and short-term migrants who are responsible for a bigger part of the internal migrant population.

Based on composition, a regular observation concerning the rural to urban migrants in the majority of the less developed countries within Southeast Asia suggests that many unmarried young people and women are joining the flow of migration. Over the past decades, the streams of female migration have increased. Wang, (2011, p. 71) indicates that an increased number of single, young and female migrants are moving from rural areas to towns for employment in countries like China, Lao, Vietnam and Indonesia.  In such countries, the number of labor-intensive jobs has been on the rise due to urbanization and globalization. Based on labor migration and urban factories in Southeast the feminization of rural to the urban movement to industries in urban areas started majorly in Thailand during 1970. For China and Lao, it was during the late 1980s while in Indonesia it was during the 1980s (Wang, (2011, p. 77). Vietnam has been known to have the tendency of feminization in internal migration and it became popular at the end of the 1990s. According to China’s 2010 population census, it is observed that females will account for 44% of the entire inter-provincial population of migrants (Tseng, 2011, p. 58). The rise of female migrants has facilitated crucial implications for gender roles. There is evidence in the labor market that has revealed gender-based bias like female migrants getting a lower pay than males even when they undertake the same jobs.

Internal migration has been known to be the main facilitator of economic and social developments. For instance, it is relevant in enhancing the reduction of poverty and also drives the process of urbanization. In Asia, a large proportion of the migrants will obtain economic benefits from their migration (Tseng, 2011, p. 67). For example, an immigrant can make a lot of money than when they could have decided to stay or not migrate. Migration will promote a significant addition to the income of the household of the migrants. Remittance has also been crucial in minimizing the rate of income inequality on intra-rural household within China. According to Tseng, (2011, p. 43) migration from rural to urban is relevant as a strategy of eradicating poverty in rural regions. It is evidenced that the rate of net migration especially rural to urban within developing nations relates positively to the growth of Gross National Product and it illustrates health and social well-being. Generally, there are claims that internal migration has a bigger opportunity for reducing poverty, offer a contribution to economic growth and achieving the millennium goals in developing nations as compared to international migration. Nevertheless, migration adversely affects different dimensions of the well-being of the migrants. The shift of place of residence to new ones entails big investments of time to develop new social networks and look for employment.

2.2 Factors Influencing Emigration

It is difficult to make an analysis of the choices that influence migration. For some people, there have to be compelling reasons as to why they migrate while to others there is a minimal provocation. The decision to migrate has always been influenced by comparative aspects. Basically, it is the comparison of the prospective situation of the migrant within their country of origin with the condition of an individual having the same qualifications in the desired country that they think about (Wang, 2011, p. 74). The decision-making process to move can be tied to the typology of reasons. First of all, it can be due to objective specific features like gender, age, educational achievement, housing conditions, family conditions of the family and jobs. Second, there is also subjective elements like information, motives, situation evaluation among others. Thus, the choice to migrate is very different. This aspect is evidenced in various models, theories and empirical analyses of migration. Currently, there is no coherent theory that discusses international migration, but a split collection of theories that are in other times separated through disciplinary boundaries. The main subjects within migration research include political science, economics, sociology, geography and demography.

2.2.1 The Crucial Influential Pull and Push Factors

The reasons to migrate can be differentiated from two main classes of factors. The push and pull factors are known to forcefully propel individuals or entice them to migrate. It implies that such elements forced them out of the native residence or they were pulled by conducive aspects in the new areas. The pull and push factors are cultural, political, economic and environmentally based. The push factors are known as those elements that force people to emigrate because of issues emerging in their country. For example underdevelopment, lack of advancement opportunities, poor economic environments, low production, unemployment, depletion of natural resources and natural disasters. According to La Croix, (2016, p. 30), the push factors are those elements within the native country of a person under specific profession that facilitate emigration. Consequently, the pull factors are those which attract individuals to a given area due to better opportunities. Basically, some opportunities will appeal individuals to move out from their countries and emigrate to others. Pull factors acting as those aspects in the preferred country for similar expertise that promote immigration. To examine on this situation, one can consider the rapid rise in demand for professional persons in a given field which occurs in developed countries, however, the increased demand surpasses the capacity of the provision of higher systems of education of that nation in the short term (Chan & Young, 2015, p. 36).

It entails a lot of criticism to explain which of the highlighted factors are crucial to making a decision to migrate. La Croix, (2016, p. 39) claim that the push factors are crucial that pull factors as they suggest that the rural challenges and not the urban attractions that are significant in facilitating migration of the population. Nevertheless, the pull factors are relevant in a choice to move as they focus on higher investment rates in urban areas that facilitate increased business opportunities, employment and more attraction to the urban lifestyle. It is also noted that both push and pull factors have importance in the process of migration as they are interrelated. It implies that the people pushed into migration are also forced in by the desires to look for better opportunities.

La Croix, (2016, p. 60) considers the process of migration as one which is majorly facilitated by economic elements. The reason is that developing nations have limited economic opportunities as compared to developed countries. Aspects like underemployment, low salaries, insufficient opportunities and lack of employment are considered as the leading factors that push migrants to regions that are more developed having better carrier potentials and economic opportunities. Thus, the majority of the migrants have decided to move in the pursuit for better economic opportunities.  Democratic factors are also another group that influences the process of migration. Such factors are based on personal features like education level, gender, social class, age, race, family and ethnicity (Naughton, 2012, p. 83). In the process of migration, there can be factors like marriage. Migrants are pulled from their native countries and go to a destination country because there is a high probability of marrying. A survey from the National Sample indicates that marriage accounts for more than 48% of the urban areas migration (La Croix, 2016, p. 32).

The social and cultural factors are other drivers of emigration. For example, considering the younger people, they desire to get familiar with various cultures or even enjoy life abroad. Nevertheless, they are attracted to learning institutions like universities within the developed countries and the skills of communication. Other things include the television effect, transportation, cinema and education in urban areas. The political factors are another class of factors that are relevant in the process of migration. Many emigrants are propelled by political crisis, discrimination, a country with no political freedom, a military coup and other factors. For example, political persecution is an aspect that causes people to make decisions about moving out of a country or make individuals be attracted to shift in another country (Constable, 2009, p. 73). The constitution or policies have the potential to directly influence migration. The host country can enact immigration regulations which can facilitate immigration or act as a deterrent.

Finally, there are miscellaneous aspects which are a combination of different decisions that can contribute to the act of migration. Majorly, they are personal intentions to evacuate. It can consist of several factors like the stability of institutions, the possibility of dissenting with institutional or government authorities, criteria of promotion, employment, desire for higher levels of education and the connection between friends and family (Chan & Young, 2015, p.39). For example, the links of family and friends imply that people will decide to migrate due to relatives and friends who can offer help in a new place of residence or high education levels which is popular in urban regions. The miscellaneous factors are very specific making it hard to summarize them.

Figure 1: Summary of pull and push factors that facilitate migration.

2.3 Why Young People want to migrate to Taiwan

The migration of young people is a common thing to China as well as a global phenomenon. The concept of out-migration among the young people from the rural, inland or non-metropolitan areas is not a new aspect. According to La Croix, (2016, p. 73) has indicated that the young people that are in the transformation to adulthood have a higher possibility of moving in search of upward mobility. It is evidenced that the number of young Hongkongers who seek to migrate to other regions of the world attained higher figures for the last three years in 2017. The Chinese University indicated that young people between the age of 18 and 30 years are dissatisfied with the condition of life in Hong Kong (Chan & Young, 2015, p. 52).  The findings are frightening because the young people are considered to be the future of Hong Kong who can offer an energy for its revolution. The big sense of despair that covers Hong Kong has been denoted as the main facilitator of frustrations among the young people. This is majorly attributed to the political atmosphere that engulfs the city as opposed to the economic and social aspects.

2.3.1 Education

Chan & Young, (2015, p. 61) indicates that 18 out of 40 young Hongkongers will migrate to Taiwan as students. For the majority of the young people, this act is not due to personal desires but majorly from the insufficient opportunities of higher education in Hong Kong. Also, it was facilitated by the preferential policy in Taiwan to overseas students from China. Despite free education being introduced in Hong Kong during the end of the 1970s, there was no tertiary education before the 1980s. The Hong Kong government only recognized two universities which were the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong. As a solution, many parents were taking their children abroad for university education. Currently, Hong Kong is recognized as the region having an elite system of education while it limits the opportunities of tertiary education for the much young populace.

However, Taiwan has established a number of preferential policies that have enrolled young Chinese youth to pursue their education. This has made many young people migrate to Taiwan as students. Despite Taiwan modifying its policy that suggests that Taiwan embodies authentic China, from the early 2000s, the preferential laws on education have not majorly changed. According to Chan & Young, (2015, p. 64) proposes that the number of young Hongkongers studying in Taiwan has increased over the years. In 2005 there were 3219, by 2010 the number had increased to 6522 and in 2015 there were 8110 (Sussman, 2010, p. 45). It is noted that the Hong Kong social unrest during the late 1960s was a big facilitator in making young people going to study in Taiwan. The young Hongkongers have claimed that universities in Taiwan offer cheaper fees of about HK $ 40, 000 as compared to those in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, the youths have claimed that the rate of admission by universities in Taiwan is much better than those in Hong Kong.

2.3.2 Sense of Belonging

The merging of economic success and having a strong sense of belonging would make the majority of the young Hongkongers to settle well in Taiwan. There are some youths who managed to develop their careers and have a successful social integration. Some youth have claimed that they felt discriminated in Hong Kong due to the stereotype of people communicating in Cantonese or English. There are also some Hongkongers who are afraid of competition within the same business. The young people who know Taiwan for many years have considered themselves to be more than passers-by and this has made them stay in Taiwan as they have a deep sense of belonging. The youths who have a multilingual ability in English, Mandarin and Cantonese have enabled them to communicate with different people in Taiwan ( Chan & Young, 2015, p. 24). Furthermore, they have stated that the cost of living in Hong Kong is expensive and they would prefer Taiwan as they are enjoying their identity and a strong sense of belonging in the region.


2.3.3 High Living Cost in Hong Kong        

This is usually regarded as the main reason for many young people. The young Hongkongers are dissatisfied by the gloomy democracy that has made them go to Taiwan for greener pastures. Hong Kong took the leading position in the most expensive places to live globally. Hong Kong is 59th in the world based on the work-life balance which was promoted by long working hours of 48.2 per week (Chan & Young, 2015, p. 39). By contrast, Taiwan was at the fifth position due to its work-life balance. Living in Taiwan was noted to be one of the best places when compared to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and even South Korea. Many of the young Hongkongers claim that they are not happy with the local economy and they suggested that having low taxations would be crucial in improving their living conditions.

The Legislative Council conducted a survey in Hong Kong based on financial challenges experienced by young Hongkongers households. It revealed that the young people or families that earned a capital of less than HK$ 36,000 every month would not be in apposition to afford to house in Hong Kong (Chan & Young, 2015, p. 40). The Hong Kong government has improved the housing conditions by increasing the living space of an individual to 13.2 square meters but still, it has not met the demands of the young people. The youths are experiencing soaring prices of properties and have to wait for long in order to obtain the public housing. It is noted that in Taiwan, they have a universal suffrage so residents have the choice to select the leaders that would serve them (Sussman, 2010, p. 68). Due to this, many young people have shifted to Taiwan as it is the most feasible location and they have a cheaper cost of living. Taiwan is recognized for providing a level of familiarity to the young Hongkongers who are searching for greener pastures.

2.3.4 Political Issues

Due to the emerging political problems of Hong Kong and Beijing, the island of Taiwan has been subject to a high number of young Hongkongers immigrants. During the 2017 New Year day in Hong Kong, the majority of the activists carried out anti-Beijing protests that encountered the police barricade (Postiglione, 2017, p. 35). Later on, Hong Kong restricted a candidate form the pro-democracy in vying in the local election. The events resulted in riots and protect by many people. Due to such events, the young people have preferred to move to Taiwan as they are highly disappointed living in Hong Kong. The young immigrants in Taiwan have strived in inspiring the activists that are having skirmishes in Hong Kong. Majority of the young people view Taiwan as a place where they can live an ordinary life.


2.4 Why Young People have no Desires of Emigrating

            2.4.1 Family and Relationships

Sussman, (2010, p. 73) suggest, the Chinese families that migrated abroad have preserved their family values as those in China. This includes the desired fields of study, marriage partner choices, occupation, the obligation of children in the family and the respect for parents. This has presented segregation of the younger people from those having the same age in the new country. When the younger people return to their mother countries, it is majorly due to the family reasons. The young people will not want to emigrate because of the care for their parents, a decision from parents and the need to stay with the family. The young people are returning to their countries as they seek to reunite with their families. There are those who are looking for relationships while their love for their country is considered to be cultural and social factors leading to neglecting emigration.

2.4.2 Better Working Conditions

Young Hongkongers can decide to stay in their country because they have higher salaries and better employment opportunities. For instance, the people in Hong Kong understand that the local government and corporations will give employment to the local residents. The immigrants to Taiwan have to be involved in self-employment and ethnic business even for the younger people (Sussman, 2010, p. 84). For Taiwan, managing to get work or promotions have turned to be challenging for the young emigrants to Taiwan. Therefore, the young Hongkongers have decided to stay in Hong Kong due to such reasons. They understand that one is required to be highly skilled and qualified for them to compete with the local Taiwanese. The employers in such countries would not prefer employing foreigners not unless one is doing very well as compared to the local people. The young people have decided to remain in their countries as they understand that organizations and the government will first give priority to the local people and then proceed to foreigners. Due to search reasons, the young Hongkongers have decided to remain in China.



3.1 Research Design

In his study, Hammersley (2003, p.33) commends the significance of qualitative methods by stating that such research methods are crucial and comprehensive in addressing socio-cultural issues pertinent in the society. With this regard, since this study mainly aims at exploring the issue of immigration and its perception among the younger generation, there was a great dependence upon qualitative methods in investigating the research objectives. As such, the participants’ individual beliefs, views and perceptions of immigration as well as the rationale behind their choice to either immigrate to Hong Kong and Taiwan or not were captured by way of face-to-face interactions. The face-to-face interactions between the researcher and the respective participants was guided by an in-depth semi-structured interviewing, which, in this case, proved to be a viable method. Moreover, with the location of study being Hong Kong and Taiwan, the sample group in this research included both Hong Kong and Taiwan residents and immigrants with equality being ensured on the number of respective persons and gender as well.

In addition to that, the sample group capitalized on both Hong Kong and Taiwan residents and immigrants whose age is between 20 and 30 years. The main course, in this case, was capturing the ideals, experiences and attitudes towards immigration harbored by the aforementioned group. To add more to that, the researcher’s decision of involving persons of the same ‘generational cohort’ was informed by the need to seek responses from a group of individuals with similar values, life experiences and upbringing. Even further, it is the participants’ acculturation into societies marked by different rationales and attitudes towards immigration that informed the choosing of this specific generational group.

3.2 Methodological Considerations

Judging from the explanations and contentions of Vogt (2007), in most cases, quantitative approaches of data collection, evaluation and analysis are the most fundamental in situations where data was obtained by way of questionnaires or surveys. Hence, since the researcher in this study was not only in pursuit of a descriptive approach but also intended to derive a comprehensive study on attitudes towards immigration, a quantitative research approach was adopted in both the collection and analysis of data.

Alongside the descriptive approach, the quantitative approach proved to be of paramount significance in developing a conclusive study based on the information submitted by the sample group. Also, there was an employment of the quantifiable information as it relates to how young people in Hong Kong and Taiwan view immigration for the purpose of statistical inference. The approach evidently addressed the research topic in an effective manner. Hence, the suitability and credibility of the adopted approaches was assessed by their relevance in meeting the research objectives.

3.3 Sample Consideration

For the purpose of exploring the research objectives, data collection was done among Hong Kong and Taiwan residents and immigrants of different marital statuses and income levels as well as those of different ages and gender. More precisely, the responses and data obtained from these individuals making up the sample group would be used to represent the perceptions in the generalized society. In addition to that, any individual making up the sample group must not only be a resident or immigrant in Hong Kong or Taiwan but also have knowledge of the growing social issue of immigration in either of the regions.

3.4 Data Collection and Analysis

The collection of data from the respondents in this study was marked by aspects of reverse coding as well as repeat questions. As a result, the study was found to be conclusive on the issue of how young people in Hong Kong and Taiwan view immigration and the freedom of expression among respondents and a high degree of accuracy were maintained. The quantification of obtained data was also simplified to a greater extent by the numerous close-ended questions exhibited in the study questionnaires. After the participants submitted their respective responses to the questionnaires, the researcher gathered all the completely filled questionnaires for the purpose of data analysis. At this stage, the data analysis saw the researcher using the SPSS software for the quantification of data. The statistical analysis of gathered feedback also involved a statistical inference, which, in turn, promoted the obtaining of more precise results.