Kivi is a student from China’s eastern city of Nanjing. Last year, after being unable to get a US master’s degree as planned. Kivi switched to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, closer to home.

According to Financial Times, university officials and immigration specialists say Kivi is an example of a growing number of mainland Chinese students and young employees flocking to Hong Kong. 

Pessimism about the prospects offered by a mainland under the control of a strict ‘zero COVID’ policy causes the trend to spread. 

In addition, concerns about how the Chinese would be welcomed in the US add to the problem’s woes.

23-year-old Kivi, who wanted to hide his real identity, said young people’s job opportunities worsened due to Beijing’s crackdown on private enterprise. 

He said, “Mainland China is in a state of chaos now. Everyone is suffocated,” adding, “The zero-Covid policy is the last straw.”

In 2021, the city’s immigration department provided 37,087 student visas to students from the mainland, an increase from 30,707 in 2019.

Joshua Mok, vice-president of Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, stated the majority of 13,000 non-local applications for this year’s postgraduate programs that the institute received by June came from mainland Chinese. In 2021, this number was only 5,000 applications.

Late last month, a large number of university students from across mainland Chinese expressed their open dissent toward the country’s COVID lockdowns and restrictions. 

In addition, according to immigration specialists, many more young mainland workers are increasingly looking to Hong Kong for employment.

JY, a Shanghai-based medical tech firm manager in her mid-30s, stated, “The main driver is the political and economic uncertainty caused by zero-Covid . . . Many indicators showed that mainland China is moving backward.”

Yet, while many young people from mainland China have moved to Hong Kong to seek good opportunities, many Hongkongers have fled the city since a national security law was introduced in 2020.
The South China Morning Post reported last month that 142,000 Hongkongers have applied for a special British citizenship visa. One-third of them are under 18, and those between the ages of 25 and 54 make up the majority.

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