FEARS of a political upheaval after 1997 has led to a surge in young, wealthy Hong Kong businessmen applying to emigrate to Canada, according to one of the country's leading immigration lawyers. Mendel Green said the number of applicants through his Tsim Sha Tsui office has now surpassed the flood that followed Beijing's bloody crackdown of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. 'I think most of the people I have seen are upset by the announcements by the Chinese Government that they are going to dismiss the political reforms that Chris Patten wants,' Mr Green said. 'They seem to be expressing fears for the future more so than ever before. Unfortunately, I'm not sure their fears are justified.' Beijing has said that it will dismantle the democratic reforms set up by Mr Patten when it resumes sovereignty over Hong Kong. Mr Green said the increase in applications could also be linked to a recently leaked report compiled by the Canadian Government that says the country intends to reduce its immigration quotas next year. According to the Canadian press, the report recommends that global immigration targets should be dropped by 50,000 to about 200,000 next year to cover a drop in overall applications. The report, which was leaked in the Toronto press last month, also suggested that rules be toughened so that only spouses and children sponsored by Canadians or landed immigrants are accepted automatically. The document, prepared for Immigration Minister Sergio Marchi, suggested the Canadian public feels that 'immigration is out of control'. 'There appears to be a move to amend Canada's Immigration Act,' Mr Green said. 'And people, particularly those with families, feel they will miss the chance.' However, Ottawa officials said the proposals outlined in the report had yet to be approved by the Government. Spokesman for the Commission for Canada, Neil Reeder, said applicants were not questioned why they wanted to emigrate and were approved as long as they fitted the criteria. Mr Reeder said there had been no dramatic rise in applicants but said the number of Hong Kong people wanting to move to Canada was increasing. 'We don't record the number of people who apply, but we expect to exceed the 1993 figure of 31,000 immigration visas issued in 1994.' A member of staff at the commission last week said he had not heard that there was a renewed fear of political repression after 1997. But he said there was a gap of up to four months from the time potential migrants met immigration lawyers, like Mr Green, and the time their papers were processed, so a surge would not appear until later. Mr Green believes that Canada has become economically attractive to wealthy Hong Kong businessmen because of cheap property prices and space for industrial expansion. Without identifying them, he said his clients were made up of 'phenomenal businessmen'. including people involved in the garment and plastic industries. 'Canada's economy is picking up,' he said. 'There are bargain basement prices on property in Canada and there are some great economic benefits.'