Lockdown and repression: Hong Kong has biggest population decline in history

Lockdown and repression: Hong Kong has biggest population decline in history

The Hong Kong Bureau of Census and Statistics reported last week that the autonomous region has seen its largest population decline since the region’s population began to be censused in 1961.

According to the ministry, Hong Kong’s total population fell from 7.41 million people to 7.29 million between mid2021 and mid2022, a decrease of 1.6 percent.

Authorities in the autonomous region speak of a “natural” decline due to an aging population and the number of deaths exceeding births, but experts attribute the sharp drop to the strict lockdown measures against Covid19 and repression since the prodemocracy protests back place between 2019 and 2020.

Statistics from the Hong Kong Bureau of Census and Statistics show that around 113,200 people left the region in one year, compared to 89,200 in the same period.

Following the prodemocracy protests, a national security law imposed by China was implemented on the territory in June 2020 and was the basis for arrests and trials of activists, political dissidents and local journalists.

In addition, “electoral reforms” took place that, as Human Rights Watch noted, “transformed Hong Kong’s quasidemocratic institutions into bodies of mere formality,” since only those loyal to the Chinese Communist Party can now hold seats in the Chinese Communist Party are local legislators. .

The Hong Kong government partially acknowledged that the population decline was affected by the antiCovid lockdowns for the second straight year, noting that they made it harder for new workers to enter the territory, but failed to mention the impact of the repression of the democracy movement.

That persecution led to an exodus of protesters, journalists and lawmakers, like former MP Fernando Cheung, who moved to Canada in May this year after spending three weeks in “contempt” for a protest he held with other lawmakers. The Hong Kong legislature had spent three weeks in prison in May 2020.

Such population losses could seriously jeopardize the future of the local economy: Paul Yip, a population expert at the University of Hong Kong, told state broadcaster RTHK that many of those leaving the territory are young, recent graduates who have a “very critical” attitude represent the workforce.

“The intensity of this flow has increased over the past two years,” said Yip, who warned that the phenomenon “could have an impact on Hong Kong’s economic development.”

Earlier in August, ahead of the release of the census figures, the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce had revised its forecast for the region’s economic output in 2022: now the body estimates the economy will contract by 0.5%, while it did in February’s forecast an increase of 1.2%.

The statement highlighted that “more than two and a half years of restrictions related to Covid19 are severely impacting businesses and the economy, [dificuldades] exacerbated by ongoing supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine.”

“The continued closure of the border between Hong Kong and mainland China and the rest of the world is hampering investment decisions and stifling any prospects for economic recovery. We need a concrete timeline for Hong Kong’s reopening to ensure we can continue to attract talent and businesses to the city,” warned Chamber CEO George Leung.