Hong Kong’s population has shrunk by 87,100 in just one year, according to official data, as residents flee China’s crackdown on the former British colony.
The rate at which residents have exited the city has picked up pace since the introduction of China’s controversial national security law last year, according to provisional data released by Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department.
A total of 89,200 Hong Kong residents have left the city in the year to June, which has been offset slightly by an inflow of 13,900 people from mainland China.
Beijing’s national security law, which sparked mass protests last summer, has led to the arrest and imprisonment of several high-profile figures in China and Hong Kong.
The law can prescribe up to life imprisonment for those found guilty of separatism, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign powers.
In the same mid-year statistics from 2019 to June 2020 – just 20,900 people from Hong Kong left the city.
While 22,100 people from the mainland moved to the city via one way permits.
The population dropped by 0.3 per cent last year, the first such dip after 2003. However, this year the population has fallen 1.2 per cent.
A government spokesperson blamed the surge in outflow on the pandemic and how Hong Kong as an international city has ‘always had a mobile population’.
“Hong Kong residents who had left Hong Kong before the pandemic may have chosen to remain outside Hong Kong or cannot return to Hong Kong due to flight unavailability,” the spokesperson said.