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Lockdown and crackdown: Hong Kong has the biggest population reduction in history

The Hong Kong Bureau of Census and Statistics reported last week that the autonomous territory had the biggest decline in the number of inhabitants since population counts began in the region in 1961.

According to the department, between the middle of 2021 and mid-

, the total population of Hong Kong has gone from 7,19 million people to 7,29 million, a reduction of 1.6%.

Authorities of the autonomous region speak of a “natural” decrease due to the aging of the population and the number of deaths exceeding the number of births, but experts attribute it to sharp drop to strict lockdowns against Covid-19 and repression since the pro-democracy protests that took place between 2019 and 2020.2022

The statistics from the Hong Kong Bureau of Census and Statistics show that about 113, 2 thousand inhabitants left the region in one year, while in the same period before 89,2000 had left.

After the protests for democracy, a National Security Law imposed by China was implemented in the territory in June 2020 and has been the basis for arrests and legal proceedings against activists, political dissidents and local journalists.

In addition, “electoral reforms ” which, as pointed out by Human Rights Watch, “turned Hong Kong’s quasi-democratic institutions into bodies of mere formality”, as now only those loyal to the Chinese Communist Party can occupy seats in the local legislature.

The Hong Kong government partially admitted that the population reduction for the second year in a row was influenced by the lockdowns against Covid, pointing out that they made it difficult for new workers to enter the territory, but did not mention the effects of the repression of the movement. pro-democracy.

This persecution generated an exodus of protesters, journalists and parliamentarians. ares, such as former deputy Fernando Cheung, who in May of this year moved to Canada a few months after serving three weeks in prison for “contempt” for a protest he held with other lawmakers in the Hong Kong legislature in May. de 2020.

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

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

In early August, before the Census figures were released, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce had revised its forecast for the region’s economic performance in 2022: now, the body estimates that and the economy will contract by 0.5%, while in February it had forecast a rise of 1.2%.

The statement highlighted that “more than two and a half years of restrictions regarding of Covid-19 are strongly affecting companies and the economy, exacerbated by ongoing supply chain bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine.”

“The ongoing closure of the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China, as well as with the rest of the world, is preventing investment decisions and stifling any prospect of economic recovery. We need a concrete timetable for reopening Hong Kong to ensure that we can continue to attract talent to the city and companies to invest here,” warned Chamber CEO George Leung.

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