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Hong Kong’s Brain Drain Worsens as Expats, Locals Flee City

  • Political crackdown, Covid policies unlikely to ease in 2022
  • Mainland influence deepens in education, markets and business
Pedestrians make their way through Central district in Hong Kong.

Pedestrians make their way through Central district in Hong Kong.

Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

An exodus of expatriates and locals from Hong Kong is poised to intensify in 2022, as policy makers continue their crackdown on civil society and brush off an increasing uproar over aligning with mainland China’s Covid Zero strategy. 

A population outflow that was triggered by the 2019 protests deepened last year to a record as the realization that the city’s strict Covid policies are here to stay sank in, and the impact of the national security law imposed by Beijing continued to roil public life. The effects of the brain drain in sectors such as education, health care, and even finance will likely be felt by residents for years to come.