September 28, 2022

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Hong Kong suffers largest ever population decline as immigration accelerates

Hong Kong suffers largest ever population decline as immigration accelerates

The Census and Statistics Department reported Thursday that the city’s total population fell from 7.41 million people to 7.29 million, down 1.6%.

Although authorities attributed some of that to a “natural” decline – more deaths than births – experts said the numbers also reflected a mass exodus that had accelerated in the past few years amid periods of massive social unrest that included anti-government protests and the coronavirus pandemic. .

The department said about 113,200 residents left Hong Kong over the past year, compared to 89,200 the year before. The figures include expatriates and other non-permanent residents.

Throughout the pandemic, experts and industry leaders have warned that the city’s severe restrictions on Covid-19 will keep residents, travelers and expats away.

Even with the rest of the world opening up, for months Hong Kong It continued to close borders, suspend air routes, impose mandatory quarantines and social distancing measures such as placing restrictions on public gatherings and restrictions on catering services.

Mask mandates remain in place, while public places such as beaches and gyms have faced lengthy closures during periods of high case numbers.

These actions devastated businesses, with some of Hong Kong’s most famous sites – including Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant – Close last year.
“More than two and a half years of Covid-19 restrictions have taken a heavy toll on business and the economy,” the General Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong said. in the current situation This month.

The group’s chief executive, George Leung, added that the closure of Hong Kong’s borders “chokes off any prospects for economic recovery” and urged authorities to set a “concrete timetable for the reopening of Hong Kong”.

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The government acknowledged the impact of its policies, saying on Thursday that flight restrictions – such as requiring all arrivals to be vaccinated, testing negative for Covid, and paying for hotel quarantines upon arrival – had “stooped the flow of residents”.

People wearing face masks walk in Hong Kong on July 12.

The government this week eased quarantine requirements, reducing the number of days arrivals must spend in a particular hotel from seven to three.

The government said some Hong Kong residents may have chosen to settle elsewhere during the pandemic.

Hong Kong's trying  Re-launch & # 39;  Its economy by lifting the flight ban and stopping the quarantine

“Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents who left Hong Kong before the epidemic may have chosen to reside elsewhere temporarily or could not return to Hong Kong. All of these (factors) may have contributed to the net influx of Hong Kong residents during the course of the outbreak,” a government spokesperson said.

But the government downplayed the population decline and seemed to indicate that Hong Kong was still a vibrant financial centre.

“Being an international city, Hong Kong residents have always been on the move,” the spokesperson said. “For the past 10 years, net outflows from Hong Kong residents have been recorded… for most of the years.”

The spokesperson added that the problem of leaving due to Covid “can be resolved when quarantine and social distancing measures are eased”, and that the numbers will rise due to the government’s efforts to attract overseas talent.

political repression

Regardless of COVID-19, experts say there is another factor behind the exodus Beijing’s political campaign on the city.
After Hong Kong 2019 Pro-democracy and anti-government protests, Beijing imposed a comprehensive national security law, under which the government virtually eliminated official opposition. Authorities have raided and closed down newsrooms, imprisoned activists and protesters, ousted elected representatives, tightened censorship of both electronic and print publications, and changed school curricula.

Since the law was enacted, many protesters and former lawmakers have fled abroad for fear of prosecution. Several individuals and families told CNN that they are also considering leaving because they feel the city has turned beyond recognition.

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In the wake of the protests, a number of countries including the UK, Australia and Canada have opened new visa pathways for Hong Kong residents looking to leave. Many former protesters and activists have also fled to the autonomous, democratic island of Taiwan.

The government has repeatedly defended the security law as restoring law and order to the city, claiming that Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech, press and assembly remain intact.

The government said on July 29 that the Security Act had “quickly and effectively restored stability and security,” adding that residents were “relieved and happy to see Hong Kong now remains open, safe, vibrant and business friendly.”