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Monday, June 6, 2016, 22:54

Canada reports large rise in HK immigrants

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG — A 95 percent rise of Hong Kong immigrants admitted to Canada was recorded by the North American country's immigration authority. Analysts urged the city to end political wrangling and find new growth areas to boost future development.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), 255 Hong Kong people were granted permanent citizenship in the first quarter - up 95 percent from the same period last year. The department's spokesman said the rise was in connection with a surge in applications in Hong Kong back in 2014.

The number of Hong Kong people emigrating to Canada has seen a rising trend in the last two years. In 2015, 630 Hong Kong people became Canadian permanent residents. This is 36 percent more than the number the year before, according to CIC statistics.

Figures from Hong Kong's Security Bureau showed United States as the most popular destination for immigrants from Hong Kong last year. Among the 7,000 Hong Kong people who emigrated, 2,100 went to the United States, while 2,000 and 800 chose to go to Australia and Canada, respectively.

The trend sparked concern about another exodus of skilled people from the city. The first wave was recorded in the 1980s to 1990s amid uncertainty over the 1997 handover.

Leading social affair analyst Song Sio-chong was not surprised. He said the outflow was increased by political and economic factors.

On the one hand, slow economic growth and unclear future development encouraged skilled Hong Kong workers to seek opportunities abroad, Song said. "If economies in other countries are in a better shape, the number would show even a bigger surge", he explained.

One the other hand, endless political wrangling between the city's political camps might have also disappointed people, Song said. He stressed that the estimated timing of the applications was in 2014. This is when political tensions started to escalate and peaked during the illegal 79-day “Occupy Central” movement.

He urged the government to unite the majority of Hong Kong people and end the political wrangling soon. Meanwhile, he advised the SAR government to develop more measures to keep skilled people here and attract talented people from overseas.

Moreover, Song also called for a clear plan for the city's future development.

Historically, the city had witnessed a major outflow of people before the reunification with China. In 1990, the outflow of people reached a peak of 62,000 people or about 1 percent of the population. The emigration rate peaked in 1992 with 66,000 people, followed by 53,000 in 1993, and 62,000 in 1994. As a result an estimated $4.2 billion flowed from Hong Kong to Canada directly.

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