Hong Kong is experiencing a record population decline driven by massive emigration.

Hong Kong is experiencing a record population decline driven by massive emigration.

The city’s birth rate is one of the lowest in Asia. At the same time, never before have so many residents left the former British colony.

(AFP/JADE GAO)

(AFP/JADE GAO)

Around 113,200 residents have left Hong Kong, which has seen a record decline in population over the past year. The city is now among the world’s toughest coronavirus health measures as Beijing’s crackdown on pro-democracy movements weighs on Hong Kongers.

According to mid-year demographic assessment estimates, the population of Hong Kong is 7,291,600, or

a decrease of 1.6% compared to the same period last year.

Figures released Thursday show a net outflow of 113,200 residents between mid-2021 and mid-2022, a record in a 12-month period since the first census was taken in 1961.

One of the reasons for this is the restrictions at the borders to combat the pandemic, which “interrupted the flow of people,” said a spokesman for the government of the financial center. The territory’s population began declining in 2020, and the decline shows no signs of stopping, according to the government.

Cut off from the world for 2 years

Hong Kong, once an Asian transportation and logistics hub, has been cut off from the world for more than two years due to its draconian health policies in line with China’s “zero Covid” strategy. At the height of the epidemic this year

Departures of residents by air often exceeded 2,000 people per day

while arrivals dwindled to a trickle.

The population decline is also part of a broader trend of the exodus of Hong Kongers, many of whom are choosing to relocate abroad in response to Beijing’s crackdown on dissent following pro-democracy protests in 2019.

The government has constantly minimized these departures

, and said many may one day return or be replaced by mainland Chinese residents. Authorities attribute the population decline in part to the city’s low birth rate, which combines an aging population with one of the lowest fertility rates in Asia.

Last year Hong Kong recorded 26,500 more deaths than births and 11,900 more the year before.

Immigration from mainland China was once a major demographic in Hong Kong, but recent numbers have remained low due to border closures.