Hong Kong has lost 1.2% of its population since the enactment of the National Security Law (NSL) in June of last year.

According to figures released by the Hong Kong government’s Census and Statistics Department on August 12, the provisional estimate of the Hong Kong population was 7 394 700 at mid-2021, a decrease of 87 100 or 1.2% from 7 481 800 at mid-2020.

During the period, a natural decrease of 11 800 and a net outflow of 75 300 persons were recorded.

On 30 June 2020, the Chinese Communist Party-controlled legislature in Beijing passed by a unanimous vote the NSL for the purpose of “safeguarding national security” and of “preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment for the offences of secession, subversion, organisation and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security in relation to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”

Amnesty International called the law “dangerously vague and broad” because “virtually anything could be deemed a threat to ‘national security’.”

Since the NSL was enacted, Hong Kong’s freedoms and civil liberties have been rapidly deteriorating. The Law has been used to crack down on pro-democracy politicians, activists, and media organizations.

A recent survey showed that around 21% of Hong Kongers, or around 1.5 million people, plan to leave the city.

Figures released by the government of the United Kingdom in May revealed that it had received 34,300 applications within two months since the introduction of a visa scheme for British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong.

BNO nationality was established in 1985 during the British colonial era. The Home Office assessed that between 500,000 and 1 million Hong Kongers with BNO status could move to the UK over five years.

In July the United States introduced a bill granting refugee visas to Hong Kongers fleeing political persecution.

In 2020, the government of neighbouring Taiwan issued 10,813 residence permits and 1,576 settlement permits to people from Hong Kong.

Among those who moved to Taiwan are bookseller Lam Wing-kee – who was once kidnapped by the Chinese authorities for selling books critical of the Communist Party – , and popular TV and radio host Tsang Chi-ho.

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