A fascinating economic success story, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. It covers 1,106 square kilometers (427 square miles) and has a population of 7.5 million. The city’s official languages are English and Chinese (Cantonese). Its unique culture and international status have made it a world-class financial center and manufacturing hub. While many people associate it with its past, the modern city is a thriving economic force.
Exodus of educated workers
There’s a looming problem for Hong Kong: a brain drain. With strict travel restrictions and a ban on certain countries, a large portion of educated workers in Hong Kong are leaving. According to a recent survey, Hong Kong is losing 157,000 residents each year. The Chamber of Commerce has warned of a looming exodus of educated workers by March 2022.
As the number of immigrants from other countries rises, Hong Kong will need about 100,000 more IT workers in the next five years. The competition for talent is fierce, with the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada among the top immigration destinations. Hong Kong has suffered the worst shortage in skilled professionals in more than 30 years. According to a recent survey by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, a third of the respondents expect the emigration-induced turnover rate to stabilize in 2020 and 2021. But that number is likely to increase further.
In Hong Kong, there has been an exodus of young, educated workers for 17 years. Many are chasing careers in other countries. According to the American Chamber of Commerce in China, nearly half of its members had left the city, and 26 percent of companies had closed their offices in the city. With Hong Kong’s expensive living costs, many educated workers are looking for more stable and profitable positions elsewhere.
COVID-19 restrictions blamed for exodus
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a large exodus from Hong Kong, but the government downplays the impact of the measures. In a statement, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, blamed Cathay Pacific Airways, the city’s flagship carrier, for the Omicron outbreak. Health officials linked the first cases of the COVID-19 variant in Hong Kong to the airline’s crew members.
While Hong Kong is still undergoing a resurgence, it may only reopen in early 2024. COVID-19 restrictions are causing significant disruptions for businesses, preventing new investment and delaying the recruitment of new talent. This report by the European Chamber of Commerce reveals that the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions are already being felt. But the chamber declined to elaborate further on the findings.
In the summer of 2019, Hong Kong witnessed its largest protests in history. The demonstrations were against a Beijing-endorsed legislative proposal that would have made it easier for mainland China to extradite Hong Kong residents. Protesters felt that Beijing was undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms, and reports of police brutality only increased tensions. The protests lasted until COVID-19 began in early 2020.
Transformation to modern economic success story
The rapid industrialization of Hong Kong in the 1950s captured the imagination of historians and economists. The city’s transition from a backwater to a modern economic success story has demonstrated the importance of services. Despite facing many challenges, Hong Kong has consistently applied producer-services flows. This is especially true of Hong Kong’s retail sector, which accounts for over a third of its GDP. With its low wage rates and cheap living costs, Hong Kong has been able to remain competitive.
Beijing has tried to restrict the rights of Hong Kong residents to vote, overhauling the electoral system in 2021 to allow pro-Beijing candidates to be appointed. The Hong Kong government has allowed only one candidate to run for the top post in the 2022 elections, John Lee, a hardline former deputy police chief. Hong Kong’s political system is divided into seventy and twenty LegCo members, with seventy elected directly and twenty chosen by industry groups.
Deities in Hong Kong
People in Hong Kong have long believed in many different deities, but one of the most popular is Tin Hau, the sea goddess, also known as Tien-hou. Currently, there are 24 temples dedicated to Tin Hau in Hong Kong, and there are shrines in fishing boats as well. This deity is a popular choice among fishermen, as she has been worshipped for centuries for her ability to calm the sea and protect against shipwrecks.
Some of the most popular deities in Hong Kong are the Cai Shen and Choi San, which are both regarded as the god of wealth. You may notice posters with Choi San’s image all over the city. There are also countless other temples in Hong Kong that honor the god of wealth, but the largest is the Wong Tai Sin Temple, which attracts thousands of worshippers on the first two mornings of Lunar New Year.