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Hong Kong faces record population decline as population outflow accelerates

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong recorded a sharp annual population decline. Covid tight control measures and apolitical crackdownhave taken a toll on the financial hub long touted as 'Asia's World City'.

The city's total population fell 1.6%, he dropped from 7.41 million to 7.29 million, the Census and Statistics Bureau said Thursday.

This is the steepest decline since the government began tracking his figures in 1961.

Authorities attribute some of the decline to a "natural" decline, meaning more deaths than births, but experts say the numbers are also counterproductive. It reflects an accelerated population exodus over the past few years amid a period of large-scale social unrest, including government demonstrations and the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the ministry, over the past year About 113,200 residents left the city, down from 89,200 in the previous year. This figure includes expatriates and other non-permanent residents.

Throughout the pandemic, experts and industry leaders have warned that the city's stringent Covid-19 regulations would alienate residents, tourists and foreigners.

Even as the rest of the world opens up,Hong Kong continues to close borders, suspend air routes, and enforce mandatory quarantines for months. , imposed social distancing measures such as restrictions on public gatherings and restrictions on restaurant services.

Mask mandates remain in effect, but public spaces such as beaches and gyms face extended closures during periods of high caseloads.Some of Hong Kong's most famous sites have closed over the past year, including the floating restaurant at Jumbo Kingdom.

"More than two and a half years of his Covid-19 restrictions have hit businesses and the economy hard," said the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce in a statement this month..

The group's chief executive, George Leung, added that Hong Kong's border closure "has hampered any prospects for an economic recovery" and called for authorities to "make efforts to reopen Hong Kong." He asked for a specific timetable.

The government acknowledged the impact of its policies and on Thursday imposed flight restrictions, including requiring all arrivals to be vaccinated, testing negative for Covid, and paying hotel quarantine fees upon arrival. said to do. "It cut off the population influx."

This week, the government eased quarantine requirements, reducing the number of days arrivals had to stay in designated hotels from seven to three. rice field.

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

“On the other hand, Hong Kong residents who left Hong Kong before the pandemic may have chosen to live elsewhere temporarily or were unable to return to Hong Kong. All (factors) may have contributed to the net outflow of Hong Kong residents during the period," a government spokesman said.

However, the government downplayed the declining population and seemed to suggest that Hong Kong is still a bustling financial hub.

"Being a cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong's population is always in flux," said a spokesperson. "The past decade has recorded a net exodus of Hong Kong residents in most years." It could be resolved," he added, adding that the number would increase due to the government's efforts to attract foreign talent.

Political repression

Covid aside, experts say another factor behind the spill is Beijing's political repression of the city.
Following Hong Kong's pro-democracy and anti-government protests in 2019, Beijing imposed a comprehensive national security law that the government Nearly wiped out formal opposition on the basis of Authorities have raided and closed newsrooms, imprisoned activists and protesters, removed elected officials, increased censorship both online and in print, and changed school curricula.

Since the law was introduced, many former protesters and lawmakers have fled the country for fear of prosecution. Many individuals and families have told CNN that they too are considering leaving because they feel the city has changed beyond recognition.

In the aftermath of the protests, Britain, Many countries, including Australia and Canada, have opened new visa channels for Hong Kongers wishing to leave the country. Many former protesters and activists have also fled to Taiwan, an autonomous democratic island. has repeatedly defended Hong Kong for restoring law and order.

The government said on 29 July that the Security Law had "swiftly and effectively restored stability and security" and that residents felt "Hong Kong remains open, safe and vibrant." We are relieved and happy that we are still a country," he added. It is a business-friendly metropolis.