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Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 19:31

Pollution casts pall over HK's livability status

By Lin Wenjie

Pollution casts pall over HK's livability status
Tourists take photos of the Hong Kong skyline from a viewing deck in Kowloon along Victoria Harbour on Dec 1, 2016. (Anthony Wallace/AFP)

Hong Kong’s position as a livable location for Asian expatriates has deteriorated over the past four years mainly because of worsening air pollution and higher health risks, a human resources consultancy has found.

Hong Kong fell 18 places to 29th position in the global ranking of the most livable locations for Asian expatriates this year, from 11th in 2013. The city dropped six places to 15th in the Asia-Pacific region compared with ninth in the Asia-Pacific four years ago.

Hong Kong’s fall was brought by a combination of internal and external factors, such as improvement of living conditions in several cities in Australia, Japan and New Zealand over the past few years.

Hong Kong fell 18 places to 29th position in the global ranking of the most livable locations for Asian expatriates this year

"From the internal side, Hong Kong is suffering from poor air quality levels. It is a first-world city with third-world air quality and many other places in the world have much better air quality than Hong Kong. In addition, the social-political tensions in the city also contributed to the fall in our rankings over this period,” Lee Quane, regional director, Asia, for ECA International, said.

Hong Kong’s regional rival Singapore continues to top ECA’s global and Asia-Pacific rankings, as it has done over the course of the past five years, owing to environmental factors such as lower levels of air pollution and the fact that Singapore is spared the impact of natural disasters such as typhoons that afflict Hong Kong annually.

However, the gap between Hong Kong and Singapore has widened over the past five years as the Lion City has been spared the social and political tensions that have taken place in Hong Kong in recent years.

"Air pollution is the major reason causing Hong Kong’s ranking to be so low in comparison to Singapore, so unless Hong Kong makes efforts to reduce the levels of air pollution, it is going to be at best ranked where it is. So this is where Hong Kong can actually do something – improving air quality and reducing social political risks,” Quane noted.

Nevertheless, Hong Kong is still ranked as the most livable city in China, holding a significantly higher position than Chinese mainland cities. Of the country’s first tier cities, Shanghai took 107th place in the global rankings and remained as the most livable mainland location assessed, while Beijing ranked at number 121.

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