Hong Kong: Record population decline, massive emigration

Hong Kong: Record population decline, massive emigration

Hong Kong has seen its population fall over the past year, with around 113,200 residents packing up as the city has among the strictest coronavirus health measures in the world.

According to mid-year population estimates, Hong Kong’s population is 7,291,600, down 1.6 percent from the same period last year.

Decline since 2020

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. Restrictions at borders to combat the pandemic that have been “paused” inflows 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.

Once an Asian transportation and logistics hub, Hong Kong 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 peak of the epidemic that year, departures of residents by air often exceeded 2,000 people a day while arrivals fell 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 consistently downplayed these departures, saying 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.

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