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WA expats in Hong Kong and foreign nationals in Perth reveal concerns amid protests

WA expats in Hong Kong and foreign nationals living in Perth have revealed their concerns over the mass pro-democracy protests engulfing the Asian region.

The protests, that have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, are causing a “generational divide”, according to a Perth expat and psychologist based in Hong Kong.

For the past seven years, Dr Andrew Stock has been practising as a psychologist through his agency ClinPsychServices.

On Tuesday, Dr Stock said he received his first client seeking help due to the effects the protests were having on his livelihood.

He said while people were dealing with their ongoing stresses, the protests were an added tension for locals.

“There’s general tension across the city. I had one, only today, who has been having trouble concentrating at work due to the protests. He has a sense that it’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better,” he said.

Dr Stock said one of his younger clients would often go to protests to provide medical support, which caused his parents to worry for his safety.

“I’ve noticed a significant difference between the view of older and younger people. Younger people seem to be a lot more sympathetic of the protesters,” he said.

Dr Stock said his older clients seemed to have more Chinese influence and tended to be “pro-police”.

“It’s resulting in tensions and conflicts within families,” he said.

The issues haven’t stopped at emotional stress either, another Perth expat working in recruitment in Hong Kong has told The West businesses were feeling the pressure of demonstrations. 

Positioned as the Hong Kong managing director of Robert Walters, an international recruitment agency, Ricky Mui said the protests had an impact on the confidence of the market.

“We believe the current protests will continue to have an impact on Hong Kong’s economy until this matter is resolved. However, we see the Trade War as a bigger long term threat to the region of Hong Kong and China,” he said.

“We have seen that when more senior roles need replacing, companies tend to distribute more responsibility to their existing members of staff or alternatively, hire a more junior replacement who can be given more diverse responsibility to up-skill.

“Additionally, we have also seen some permanent roles being converted to hiring temporary contract candidates due to headcount issues and as a practical way to resolve immediate hiring needs.

“From the candidate side, we are seeing candidates more risk adverse when moving jobs.”

Back in Perth, Cannington man Sunny Cheng who moved to WA from Hong Kong more than six years ago said he feared for the safety of his loved ones back home.

“Most of my family members are in Hong Kong, I do fear for their safety. I am not in Hong Kong, I am safe. I left my family and my friends in Hong Kong in grave danger, though,” he said.

The 28-year-old said he believed justice and freedom were “actually rapidly fading in Hong Kong” as the protests continued.

“I hold the same view as the protesters in Hong Kong,” he said.

“We must stand together to achieve democracy in Hong Kong that we never truly have.

“I believe that Hong Kong’s standing as an international financial centre is underpinned by a well-defined and established political system and laws which allow the rule of law, justice, and freedom.

“We have a chance to deal with the injustice before Hong Kong deteriorates any further.

“Australia politicians may consider imposing sanction to Hong Kong governments and police to improve the safety of Australians both in Hong Kong and in Australia.

“The primary duty of Australia politicians is to ensure the prosperity and safety of Australia.”

Meanwhile, passengers boarding flights between Hong Kong and Perth have slipped through unaffected by the protests at one of the world’s busiest terminals.

While hundreds of flights through Hong Kong International Airport have been cancelled for the second-straight day, the sole operator linking Perth to the Asian city has managed to spare its customers from the disruptions.

Generally held in the late afternoon and early morning, Cathay Pacific flights have been on track and on time to and from WA.

The same, however, can’t be said for the eastern states as flights to Melbourne and Sydney were canned on Tuesday.

The airline has been issuing advice for its passengers on a 24-hour basis.

On Tuesday evening, Cathay Pacific urged customers to regularly check their website for updates and to view which flights are cancelled.

They also encouraged passengers to postpone non-essential travel from Hong Kong on Wednesday and urged them not to proceed to the airport unless they have a confirmed booking.

The Australian Government is providing updates on the situation at Hong Kong airport, including through the consulate’s Facebook site.

The consulate has also stationed a small team at the transport hub to assist any Australian tourists seeking to safely exit the airport.

They said Australians intending to travel should always check the Smart Traveller website.

Hong Kong airport has continued to blame the disruptions on protesters.

The latest notice issued by the Hong Kong Airport Authority at 5.15pm, advised travellers that terminal operations had been “seriously disrupted” and all check-in processes were suspended.

“All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible. Affected passengers please contact their respective airlines for flight arrangement,” the statement advised.

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