A total of 879,000 one-way permit holders have come to Hong Kong from the mainland since the city’s return to China in 1997, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
Citing a government document submitted to the Legislative Council, it said those new immigrants from the mainland are the major source of population growth in Hong Kong.
They accounted for 12 percent of the city’s population of 7.3 million by the middle of this year.
China grants 150 one-way permits each day to mainlanders to allow them to move to Hong Kong to reunite with family.
The document expects Hong Kong’s population to rise to 8.22 million by the year 2043, with one-way permit holders remaining a major source of the increase.
The government said it will continue to provide the services, such as language training, needed to enable them to integrate and adapt more readily into Hong Kong society.
The document also says cross-boundary marriages accounted for nearly 40 percent of marriages registered in Hong Kong last year.
About 26 percent of them were of local women to mainland men.
Given the prevalence of cross-boundary marriages, there is a continuing need for the one-way permit scheme to enable eligible mainland residents to come to Hong Kong for family reunification, it said.
Moreover, it said, 47,000 “overage” children of Hong Kong residents remained in the mainland last month although they have received one-way permits and could exercise their right of entry in future.
Since April 2011, children in the mainland born of Hong Kong parents, one of whom obtained a first Hong Kong identity card by the end of 1986, have been eligible for the scheme as “overage children”.
Neo Democrat lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai said the permit holders are getting older and older, undermining the government’s efforts to introduce new immigrants to boost the city’s labor force as the population ages.
He said these immigrants from the mainland, who have a lower level of education on average, will aggravate the competition for resources such as public rental housing.
Fan urged the government to learn from the experience of Singapore and create a system to integrate immigrants and attract more real talent for Hong Kong.
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