He is not a top talent Hong Kong wants

February 22, 2023 11:23
He Jiankui Photo: Reuters

How far is Hong Kong willing to go for its talent hunt?

In a shocking revelation to the citizen and probably the SAR government, controversial scientist and jailbird He Jiankui managed to get his working visa in Hong Kong under the new Top Talents Pass Scheme. Equally surprising, the visa was revoked in just a few days.

Locals still scratched their heads over why He, who made headlines for making the world’s first gene-edited babies in Shenzhen in 2018. He was jailed in 2019 for medical malpractice and was released last April after a three-year sentencing.

One possible explanation is the officials responsible for Top Talents Pass Scheme, introduced last year in Hong Kong’s latest aspiration to become the science and innovation centre, did not do enough desktop research.

Otherwise, how can they miss Mr He, the biophysicist who stunned the world for his controversial research?

Interestingly He, a former associate professor in the Department of Biology of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, spoke to the South China Morning Post just two weeks ago that Lulu and Nana, the two genetically modified twin girls he created in 2018, are living happily with their parents.

He said, “They have a normal, peaceful and undisturbed life. This is their wish and we should respect them.”

In another dramatic move yesterday, He held a hasty two-minute press briefing in Beijing that he is only coming to Hong Kong to seek opportunities to work with local universities or companies.
"I have no plan to stay for the long-term," he said. "I always think Hong Kong is a city with freedom, prosperity, inclusiveness and openness, and I think highly of Hong Kong's future.”

He had plans to visit Hong Kong next month to work with universities or companies on rare genetic disease research.
Hours after the ad hoc conference, He was disqualified by the Immigration Department because he had lied on his application form for his criminal records.

True, applicants in the Top Talents Pass Scheme must declare their criminal records but it was based on the honest system.

Apparently the Labour and Welfare Bureau approved He’s visa, but the Immigration Department vetoed the decision because He did not disclose he had served in prison.

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EJ Insight writer