HONG KONG, June 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong residents leaving the city for good withdrew an aggregate HK$1.44 billion ($185.2 million) from their Mandatory Provident Fund pension accounts in the fourth quarter of 2019, up 46.1% from the same quarter in 2018.
The fourth quarter of last year saw some of the most violent unrest in Hong Kong in decades after protests over a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China evolved into calls for greater democracy.
It was the biggest quarterly withdrawal since 2014, according to three-month data from Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority. (bit.ly/2UAZyvg)
In 2014, Hong Kong was rocked by 79 days of protests that paralysed parts of the city as activists stepped up calls for greater democracy.
The authority did not provide the number of pension accounts involved in the withdrawals nor the reason for residents’ departure.
The number of people who applied for police record printouts, which are only issued for visa applications or child adoptions, surged 92% in the fourth quarter of 2019 from the previous year.
The total withdrawal amount for 2019 was HK$4.845 billion, up 1.1% from HK$4.792 billion in 2018.
Beijing’s move to directly impose national security laws on Hong Kong has seen many residents rush to secure a back-up plan as fears grow over China’s tightening grip on the city.
Citizens flocked to renew their British National Overseas passport after the proposed new law prompted Britain to offer a potential refuge to the almost 3 million eligible for it.
As well as Britain, residents have inquired about the United States, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to immigration consultants. ($1 = 7.7503 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Clare Jim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Stephen Coates)