Millionaires Flee Hong Kong as Freedoms Disappear Under Chinese Grip; City's Ranking Drops

The number of high-net-worth individuals in Hong Kong has fallen by nearly 30 per cent in recent years, as the city's ranking as a destination for the wealthy dropped several places amid an ongoing erosion of the city's promised freedoms under Chinese rule, according to a media report.

The number of millionaires living in Hong Kong fell by 27 per cent between 2012 and 2023 to 129,000, as the city fell from fourth place globally to seventh place, immigration consultants Henley & Partners said in its World's Wealthiest Cities Report 2023, Radio Free Asia reported.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Wikimedia Commons / Jim Trodel

Meanwhile, the number of rich people living in Singapore rose by 40 per cent over the same period, as the city-state overtook Hong Kong to rise to fifth place in the global survey, it said, RFA reported.

Net departures of permanent residents from Hong Kong totaled 113,000 for the whole of 2022, while the city's population fell by 1.2 per cent in the 12 months to August 2021, prompting calls from media backed by the Communist Party for the government to act to stem the brain drain.

Middle-class families have also been selling off property and voting with their feet, citing the curbs on freedom of speech and growing political interference in schools as driving factors in their decision to leave.

Hong Kong protest
Twitter Screen Grab/Ezra Cheung

Veteran Hong Kong journalist and former Cable TV finance channel editor Joseph Ngan said there is now little to set Hong Kong apart from other cities in mainland China, with many fleeing the city for Singapore during the three years of lockdowns and port closures that marked the ruling Communist Party's zero-Covid policy, RFA reported.

An ongoing crackdown on peaceful political opposition and public criticism of the government under a draconian national security law had also taken its toll on the city's reputation among wealthy individuals, he said.