State Media Calls on Hong Kong to Compensate For Tide of Emigration

A Beijing-backed op-ed highlights the loss of highly trained medical personnel in the wake of a draconian national security law.
By Cheng Yut Yiu
State Media Calls on Hong Kong to Compensate For Tide of Emigration A Hong Kong family takes a photo at the Departures gate of the city's international airport, July 19, 2021.

Net departures from Hong Kong hit nearly 90,000 in the year following the imposition of the national security law by Beijing, according to recent figures from the city's census and statistics department.

In the biggest decline in the city's population since records began in 1961, Hong Kong saw a net outflow of 89,200 residents in June 2021. The departures have led to a 1.2 percent drop in the city's population, the Census and Statistics Department reported.

Until now, Hong Kong and Chinese officials have sought to play down the scale of the exodus, brushing aside the impact on the city's economic and professional life.

But on Monday, a Chinese state media organization, CRNTT, was the first to acknowledge that highly skilled people are leaving in large numbers.

In an Aug. 30 report, it was the first media organization under the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to admit the link between the ongoing exodus from Hong Kong and the national security law, which took effect from July 1, 2020.

"There is a high proportion of professionals -- 12 percent -- among those emigrating," the article said.

"The Hong Kong government should pay close attention to the increase in the number of professionals emigrating, and set out a long-term response strategy," it said.

The article appeared particularly concerned over the loss of medical professionals from Hong Kong, suggesting the government focus on recruiting healthcare workers from mainland China and overseas.

The exodus looks set to hit the healthcare sector hard, with the Hospital Authority (HA) reporting the loss of 4.6 percent of doctors and 6.5 percent of nurses in public hospitals.

'A worrying situation'

HA chairman Henry Fan said public hospitals are in "a worrying situation," linking the loss of doctors and nurses to the current migration wave, as those leaving had applied for detailed service records and paid up their taxes in advance, a prerequisite for leaving the city.

He said private hospitals were also seeing their doctors emigrating, and were making the situation worse by recruiting doctors from public hospitals, Fan said in a comments that were widely reported in local media earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a survey commissioned by the pro-Beijing think tank Path of Democracy found that around one third (33 percent) of respondents were planning to emigrate.

Some 30 percent of people have reported plans to leave Hong Kong for good since the national security law ushered in a city-wide crackdown on public dissent and political opposition and the government launched a patriotic "national security education" program in schools, abolishing the Liberal Studies critical thinking program.

Many of those departing for good have told RFA that they have no wish to see their children taught CCP propaganda in schools, as the chilling effect from the national security law spreads across the education sector, from kindergarten to universities.

The poll came as a prominent independent bookstore announced it was shutting up shop, as the owner and his family got ready to leave Hong Kong.

"It is with great sadness that I need to announce that Bleak House Books will be closing," owner Albert Wan said in a blog post at the weekend, announcing the shop's closure on Oct. 15, 2021.

"The decision to close the bookshop follows another equally painful and sad decision, which is that my family and I will be leaving Hong Kong in the near future," Wan wrote. "The backdrop to these developments is, of course, politics."

Wan added: We are living in uncertain, even dangerous times."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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