Hong Kong has lagged behind Singapore in competitiveness in recent years, a Harvard academic said, attributing the phenomenon to the difference in the quality of immigrants in the two cities.
Professor Ezra Feivel Vogel, who has written many books on Japan, China and Asia, said the quality of new immigrants to Hong Kong has not been high compared to that in Singapore, which has focused on introducing high-quality talents, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Talents import is the key in the competition between Hong Kong and Singapore, Vogel said.
According to Hong Kong government statistics, most of the immigrants in the city were one-way permit holders coming from the mainland. In 2014 alone, 40,500 such immigrants settled in Hong Kong, almost double the city’s natural growth of population.
However, most of them were less-educated workers. Although the percentage of those with college degree or above rose to 16 percent in 2011 from 5.7 percent in 2001, it is still far behind the 27.7 percent seen in the local population.
In comparison, new immigrants in Singapore dropped to 24,000 in 2013 from nearly 50,000 in 2007, but the proportion of those with college degree or above rose to 81.8 percent from 76.4 percent, the report said.
Ezra, whose books include “Four Little Dragons: The Spread of Industrialization in East Asia”, said unaffordable property prices and higher living costs are hampering the flow of high-quality talents to Hong Kong.
The four dragons in the book title refer to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
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