Hong Kong has adopted a strict zero-COVID policy, which results in foreign executives being unable to enter the territory. As a result, the number of visa approvals fell 75% from the pre-pandemic period. Hong Kong is running out of talent, and its status as Asia’s financial center is crumbling, according to Creaders.
In June 2021, a British executive, who intends to leave Hong Kong with his family, said that the strict isolation measures were unsuitable for business people.
Financial industry personnel revealed that the number of executives that left Hong Kong was twice as high as before the COVID-19 pandemic. They called it “the end of the world for foreign-funded enterprises.”
A former CEO of a large bank said that although the value of Hong Kong had not turned to zero, its financial status was no longer what it used to be.
According to the Financial Times, Hong Kong has become a Chinese city and is no longer a “springboard” for many foreign investors to do business in China. In addition to political problems, foreign-funded enterprises are also plagued by pandemic prevention and lockdown measures.
A veteran Asia head of a large U.S. global fund told the Times, “People are talking about the ‘death of Hong Kong as we know it,’ but that is kind of the point. When anything big changes, for good or bad, the old version dies.’”
According to Hong Kong administration statistics, the number of visa approvals for foreign professionals has plummeted from more than 40,000 in 2019 to more than 10,000 in the first nine months of 2021.
Expats are very impatient with quarantine measures, and the five-star hotels are now like luxury prisons with high security, draining a substantial source of talent.
A former CEO of a prominent Hong Kong bank also said that strict anti-COVID measures have caused more foreigners to leave the territory. At the same time, executives in Hong Kong or China have accelerated to take control of all key positions. He called it “a localization process,” saying he “can’t see any way around that.”
Along with the lockdown, the former CEO said the connection between the Hong Kong/China business and the headquarters in the United States or other places would gradually be lost over time.