Hong Kong leader says city’s brain drain is ‘undeniable’

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters' questions during a news conference in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters’ questions during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, March 21, 2022. Vincent Yu/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

March 30, 2022

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong Chairwoman Carrie Lam said it was “undeniable” that the global financial hub was experiencing a brain drain due to strict coronavirus rules, but added that she values ​​the city’s international status and feels a ” better development” afterwards imagine pandemic.

Lam’s comments come amid a backlash from businesses and residents who see the rest of the world transitioning to living with the virus, while Hong Kong officially stands by a dynamic zero-COVID-19 strategy to contain any outbreaks as soon as they do appear.

Lam said nobody values ​​Hong Kong’s international status more than she does, but the government must take measures to combat the pandemic to protect residents.

“These measures are having some impact on businesses and individuals, although we don’t have a number. … It is an undeniable fact that we have a brain drain and some senior executives from some companies have left Hong Kong,” she said in a daily news briefing on Wednesday.

“The most important thing is that Hong Kong retains its advantages. I believe Hong Kong can develop better after the pandemic.”

Lam said “streamlining” certain measures, including lifting a flight ban from nine countries and reducing quarantine for arrivals from abroad, would help allay concerns about the city’s international status.

Her comments come just weeks before the city’s May 8 election to choose its leader for the next five years, but Lam declined to say if she would run again.

Hong Kong earlier this year took its most draconian measures since the pandemic began more than two years ago, frustrating many residents who had largely stuck to curbs in hopes of resuming travel.

The border has been virtually closed since 2020 as few flights land and hardly any passengers are allowed through, isolating a city that has earned a reputation as a global hub for finance and travel.

But behind its public adherence to China’s dynamic zero policy, Hong Kong has begun to focus on mitigating the impact of outbreaks it can no longer prevent.

The rules, along with mixed messages from the government on issues like a citywide lockdown and mass testing, have prompted an exodus of residents over the past two months.

Health authorities reported 6,981 new infections on Wednesday, continuing a steady decline from a record high of more than 58,000 on March 9.

The number of infections in the former British colony tops 1.1million with more than 7,600 deaths, most in the past five weeks.

Densely populated Hong Kong has recorded the highest number of deaths per million people in the world in recent weeks.

(Reporting by Farah Master, Jessie Pang, and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Bradley Perrett.) Hong Kong leader says city’s brain drain is ‘undeniable’

Bobby Allyn

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