Hong Kong faces brain drain due to political environment created by China
Hong Kong has been facing the worst brain drain problem in the medical field ever since China imposed the draconian National Security Law in the city in June 2020.
A lot of talented Hongkongers have been migrating to the UK, the US, Australia and other countries for better opportunities.
Political environment is one of the important reasons for the permanent emigration.
Hong Kong's Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau has conceded it, stating that emigration, the social environment and the political environment have played a role in the brain drain hitting the medical sector.
Mau's remarks have clearly indicated the gravity of the situation which Beijing has refused to acknowledge and instead stepped up efforts to further tighten its control over the former British colony.
The whole exercise is part of the 'grab' campaign finalised after all efforts to hire overseas doctors failed miserably in the recent past.
The UK is the most obvious choice as it is the most preferred choice for Hong Kong youngsters seeking to study medicine outside the SAR.
However, a Hospital authority delegation would leave for the UK soon to recruit doctors after the SAR's public health sector suffered from one of its worst brain drains in memory, Mau conceded.
Besides the UK, US and Australia are in the list of preferred countries of Hongkongers.
The UK visit will be the first of many tours that will include other countries and places.
The 'grab' campaign comes after earlier efforts to hire overseas doctors failed miserably to get the number the authority wanted.
After key registration legislation was amended in 2021 to make it easier for overseas-trained doctors to practice in the city, Mau and his colleagues at the authority had hoped to hire 100 foreign doctors. Only 10 have been willing to come.
Relocation has not been restricted to the medical profession. Analysts have seen changes in relocation patterns in the last couple of years. But it is not just the locals who are looking for greener pastures. Foreigners, who make up 10 per cent of Hong Kong's population, have started leaving over the prolonged Covid-19 restrictions in the city.
Ironically, the city had imposed Covid-19 restrictions on the lines of mainland China.
Hong Kong's rental market was adversely affected by it. In the expat enclave of Discovery Bay, luxury rents dropped 2.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2022, as demand fell on the back of tenants leaving, according to Channelnewsasia website.
Road plan for grab campaign
As per the Hospital authority's plan led by chief executive Tony Ko Pat-sing, focus will be on graduating students in medical colleges. It will be difficult to recruit experienced doctors who have moved to the UK from Hong Kong in recent years.
The authority is prepared to offer generous pay packages to these young doctors.
The Hong Kong authorities had rolled out an aggressive talent trawling campaign six months ago to attract graduates from the top 100 universities globally or those who have an annual salary of about 320,000 US dollars.
The scheme offered them an opportunity to come without any job offer.
As of February, 92 per cent of the nearly 8,400 applicants got through.
The Immigration Department said it does not collect industry specific data, but recruiters are seeing demand for jobs in the financial sector.
Analysts are none too optimistic about the outcome of these efforts. They referred to the youth survey, "Tackling Hong Kong's Brain Drain", conducted last October.
The study conducted by Youth Ideas, one of the city's biggest youth organisations, showed that some 16 per cent of those who wanted to leave the city for work said they had no intention of ever coming back, while another 12.6 per cent said they would only consider returning after getting a foreign nationality.
This came at a time when countries like Canada and the UK, were easing their immigration schemes for Hongkongers in response to the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, which some say will curb the rights and freedoms of residents.
According to the survey, Hong Kong could witness a brain drain in the next five years after a new survey revealed that a quarter of university-educated people under the age of 35 were planning to leave the city to work elsewhere, amid easing of immigration schemes by foreign countries in response to the imposition of the national security law here.
The survey found that 24.2 per cent of respondents said they had plans to get a job outside Hong Kong in the next five years, with top destinations being Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and the US.
Political stability, social stability, 'work-life balance' and 'emigration plan' were among the reasons behind such remarks.
Of those polled, 15.8 per cent said they had no plans to return to Hong Kong, while another 12.6 per cent said they might consider returning after getting permanent residency overseas or securing a foreign nationality.
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