In 2021, Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region in southeastern China, has seen a population decline of more than 110,000, according to government estimates released on Thursday. The number represents 1.6% of the total population of 7.3 million inhabitants. The main reason for the exodus is the policy of covid zero deployed across Chinawhich confines people to their homes or entire cities since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic in the region, in January 2020, and the persecution of dissidents from the communist regime.
According to estimates, the number of 113,000 emigrants registered between mid-2021 and mid-2022 is a record in a 12-month period since the first census, carried out in 1961. The restrictions imposed during the pandemic “interrupted the influx population”, justified a spokesman for the government of the financial center.
The population decline is also part of a broader trend of exodus from Hong Kong, driven by a lack of freedom in the territory. Many residents are choosing to move abroad in response to Beijing’s crackdown on dissent after the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
The territory’s population began to decline in 2020, and the decline shows no signs of stopping, according to government data. Hong Kong has been isolated from the world for more than two years because of the strict measures. This year, when the restrictive measures were tightened in the face of the increase in the number of cases, the departures of residents by air exceeded 2,000 people a day, while few arrivals were recorded.
The government has always played down such departures, saying that many will one day return or could be replaced by residents of mainland China. Authorities partly attribute the population decline to low birth rate city, whose population is aging and has one of the lowest fertility rates in Asia.
Last year, Hong Kong recorded 26,500 more deaths than births and 11,900 more in the previous year. Immigration from mainland China was once a major demographic factor in Hong Kong, but recent numbers have remained low due to border closures.
Read more: “The insanity of ‘covid zero’ in China”, report published in Issue 112 of Revista Oeste.