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Police officers stand guard outside a court in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has seen an alarming reduction in its population over the last 12 months, as people leave in the wake of the pandemic and the city's political turmoil.

According to data released by the Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong's population has declined by 1.2%, equating to 89,200 people. It's the biggest decrease in Hong Kong's population in 60 years, AFP reported.


It comes after Beijing imposed a national security law on the city, cracking down on political dissidents following the anti-government protests in 2019. Supporters of the movement have used other methods too, such as publicly reading Apple Daily's pro-democracy newspaper, before its closure in June.

A government spokesman said the high numbers of those leaving the city are not all necessarily emigrating and the population decline is also due to the lack of new arrivals, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, the South China Morning Post reported. Additionally, Hong Kong has also had the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with, and although the city has recorded only 12,000 cases with 200 people dead, strict quarantine measures remain.

British visa

An offer of citizenship made by Britain for millions of Hong Kong residents has contributed to thousands leaving, the data suggests. Following activation of the security law, the British Government announced it would extend the rights of British National Overseas, or BNO, passport holders in Hong Kong, with nearly 3 million residents eligible.

The scheme allows Hong Kong residents born before 1997 a "pathway to citizenship" after five years. An assessment by the British Government estimated that by 2026 up to 300,000 could apply to emigrate, with 34,000 having already applied between January and March.

Activists self-exiled

Dozens of lawmakers and activists are facing jail under the security law in Hong Kong, but several managed to flee overseas. Ted Hui, a former lawmaker in Hong Kong's mini-parliament, the Legislative Council, left for Australia in late 2020. He was facing nine charges and believes he was being investigated under the security law. (VOA/RN)

Keywords: East Asia, Hong Kong, Protest, Security Law, Pandemic


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