How Many People Can Hong Kong Accomodate?

VJMedia

26th March 2013

<How Many People Can Hong Kong Accommodate?>

香港可以容納多少人?

Population policy is rarely discussed in Hong Kong, and the government has never presented any concrete policy blueprint, either before or after the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in 1997. Since the handover of sovereignty, the Hong Kong SAR government has failed to establish a population policy in Hong Kong. Given the lack of solid policy and inattentive population estimation, today’s social resources and infrastructures are far from matching the needs in Hong Kong. The population will aged rapidly in the coming 20 years, whilst the arrival of anchor babies (the majority of them live in China with their families until they reach school age) will continue to increase. Establishing a clear, executable and convincing population policy to address these problems is at its most urgent.

表一:特區政府於人口政策上的重要措施

2003 – Report on the Task Force on Population Policy
Key policies: importing professionals and investment visa scheme from PRC (Mainland China)
2007 – Steering Committee on Population Policy
Key policies: undertake a 18-month long study on population policies
2012 – Steering Committee on Population Policy Progress Report
Key policies: no longer encourage Mainland Chinese women to give birth in Hong Kong

Chart 1: key population policies launched by the HKSAR government

It is crucial to take population policy into account when designing other policies. However, Hong Kong SAR government has no focus nor general direction in planning and executing population policy. The changes in population which Hong Kong SAR’s government have failed to anticipate are the direct cause of incorrect estimations on social resource requirements leading to conflicts in society.

Chart2

表二:2003-2011年透過不同計劃來港常住而沒有限期的人口

Accumulated number as of 2011

Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (since July 2003): 49,021
Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (since October 2003): 15,417
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (since June 2006): 2094
Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (since May 2008): 15,359
One-way Permit (from 2003 to end of 2011): 411,000
Certificate of Entitlement Scheme (since 1st July 1997): 189,912
Total: 682,803

Chart 2: Long term residents with no limit in terms of period of stay coming to Hong Kong via various schemes between 2003 and 2001

According to the Immigration Department’s website, the number of people who successfully obtained Entry Permits to enter Hong Kong from 2003 to 2011, excluding tourists, domestic helpers, foreign laborers, working holiday students, etc. who have a limit on how long they can stay, amounted to 682,803. During the same period, Hong Kong’s total population growth was 242,000. In other words, the number of these new emigrants was nearly three times Hong Kong’s total domestic population growth. Unfortunately, the Hong Kong SAR government’s residential property production target reduced during the same period without considering the increased demand resulting from liberalising the immigration policy and the increase in non-local student numbers. This eventually caused the sky-high property and rental prices.

表三:於香港出生人口,依父母原居地區份

Chart3

Chart 3: newborns in Hong Kong, categorised based on parents’ residency

表四:香港人口增長百份比與流入人口增長數量

Chart4

Chart 4: Hong Kong population growth in percentage and population inflow growth

Precise population forecast and policy allow social resources, including land, housing, infrastructure, medical, education, social benefits etc. to be forecast and provided effectively. However, another important question is: how many people can Hong Kong accommodate? According to the “Report of the Task Force on Population Policy” issued in 2003, based on the existing land and land that can be developed in Hong Kong, it is estimated that Hong Kong can accommodate 8.79 million people. However, this number was not highlighted in the 2012 report. Hong Kong’s decision makers should have learnt from the problems caused by the recent Population White Paper in Singapore.

People’s Action Party, the ruling party, in Singapore announced the Population White Paper in early 2013. The Paper recommended to introduce large amount of immigrants from 2020 onward, in order to compensate the reducing productivity caused by the aging population. At the same time, the White Paper also recommended to aggressively reset the target population from 5.3 million to 6.9 million. Although Singaporeans resent the Paper, other political parties have limited power in the congress, and the White Paper was passed in the congress controlled by the People’s Action Party.

(Picture source: Temasek Review)

The White Paper was passed without public consultation, causing massive repercussions in Singapore. 5,000 Singaporeans protested on 17th February in Hong Lim Park, the only venue that people can host liberal political gatherings in Singapore. People were protesting against the lack of transparency of the policy making process, and argued that this new population policy will result in further increase of commodity and property prices, and lower the increase of salary. This protest was the largest non-election-related political assembly since Singapore was established in 1965, pressuring the People’s Action Party. Below is part of the speech delivered subsequently by Samantha Chia, a spokesperson of the assembly:

Imagine a place where your cultural identity is slowly eroded away, surrounded by unfamiliar faces – a stranger in your own homeland. How different is that from living in another country?

Imagine a place where your cultural identity is slowly eroded away, surrounded by unfamiliar faces a stranger in your own homeland. How different is that from living in another country?

Some think that the turmoil caused by the White Paper will escalate Singaporeans’ discontent over People’s Action Party, and impact the results of the election in 2015 and the Party’s dominant position in the congress since the establishment of the country.

Hong Kong’s population policy should be determined by the people of Hong Kong. The government should consult and listen to the people in order to find consensus. Disregarding the public opinions on population policy will only cause more problems to the government and intensify the governing crisis they’re facing.

Population policy is rarely discussed in Hong Kong, and the government has never presented any concrete policy blueprint, either before or after the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in 1997. Since the handover of sovereignty, the Hong Kong SAR government has failed to establish a population policy in Hong Kong. Given the lack of solid policy and inattentive population estimation, today’s social resources and infrastructure is far from matching the needs in Hong Kong. The population will age rapidly in the coming 20 years, whilst the arrival of “anchor babies” (the majority of them live in China with their families until they reach school age) will continue to increase. Establishing a clear, executable and convincing population policy to address these problems, is at its most urgent.

 

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One response to “How Many People Can Hong Kong Accomodate?

  1. I read once in the news from a govt leader that the official policy is to replace the population in HK with mainland to solve the diminishing population of HK.

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