Hong Kong never lost its sheen to international talents: city’s NPC deputies refute “brain drain” hypes
Published: Mar 06, 2024 10:19 PM
The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

The view of Hong Kong Photo: VCG

It is normal to see people come and go, yet Hong Kong never lost its sheen to international talents, nor is the city’s global role dwindling, said deputies to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), China's national legislature, refuting foreign media’s hype that “brain drain” is threatening the city’s status as an international financial hub.

Hong Kong's economy is still very popular internationally, with over 9,000 companies operating in the city. However, in terms of talent, mobility is quite common. Many foreign talents come to Hong Kong, as well as talented people from Chinese mainland, Ken Wong Kam-leung, a deputy to the National People's Congress and chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

His comment aim to refute the hype from some Western media, such as Bloomberg, which claimed that Hong Kong is suffering from brain drain, which is threatening its status as an international financial hub. 

Some foreign media outlets also reported that talented people are hesitant to work and live in Hong Kong, and claimed there could be an exodus of talented people from the city.

“We have always had people coming in and going out, and we are delighted to see that our talent program is very popular,” Starry Lee Wai-king, a Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, told the Global Times. She believes that Hong Kong will continue to launch different programs to attract different talents, to contribute to the development of the city, as well as the country. 

Wang Wenbin, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, also slammed such reports in January. According to official statistics, from mid-2022 to mid-2023, the net population inflow into Hong Kong was 174,000, debunking the claim of the so-called "talent exodus," Wang said.

From January to November 2023, the HKSAR government received more than 200,000 applications through various talent attraction programs, of which over 120,000 have been approved, exceeding the 80,000 people who quit jobs during the period – with the difference being bigger than the city's annual plan of attracting at least 35,000 skilled workers.

The deputies also highlighted the importance of exchange between people in Hong Kong and the mainland. Lee said she is thrilled to see the frenzy of Hong Kong residents "tripping north" to Shenzhen.

According to the latest data from the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department issued in January, as of December 30, 2023, there were 53.34 million trips made by Hong Kong residents "heading north" throughout the year, with over 40 million departing through the Shenzhen-Hong Kong port.

Hong Kong media reports said that unlike before 2019, Shenzhen has now taken the lead in this cross-border city pair, as the consumption pattern of Hongkongers in Shenzhen gradually shifted from leisurely spending to everyday purchase, from dining and entertainment to medical check-ups, grocery shopping and even real estate purchases.

Now is the best time to promote patriotic education to people in Hong Kong, because whether it is traveling, shopping, or working in the mainland, representatives of Hong Kong people are very fond of exploring and understanding the real situation in the mainland, said Lee. 

She believes it’s also important to roll out preferential policies, such as optimizing visa application, to attract people from the mainland to visit Hong Kong. 

After COVID, the Hong Kong government has been working hard to catch up. Now there are many grand events and activities being organized to boost tourism, said Lee, noting that the city still needs to provide more new experiences, innovative products and possibly better services in order to attract more tourists.