China has unveiled a new visa scheme that could draw a large influx of highly qualified people to live and work in Hong Kong, which has seen a mass exodus of people since the ruling Chinese Communist Party launched a crackdown on dissent in the wake of the 2019 protests, according to a media report.
China's Exit-Entry Administration will launch a pilot scheme from February 20 that will allow senior scientists, healthcare professionals and investment arbitrators to enter and leave Hong Kong and Macau more freely, in a move commentators said could hamper social mobility for Hong Kongers who remain in the city, RFA reported.
The move comes after media backed by the ruling party called for schemes to balance out the exodus of highly-trained professionals, who have been leaving Hong Kong in droves in recent years, prompting concerns of a brain drain affecting major companies, education and healthcare, the report said.
According to the notice, the scheme is being administered entirely by Chinese immigration officials, despite promises that Hong Kong would police its own borders following the 1997 handover to China.
The new visas were announced unilaterally by Beijing, with Hong Kong having no say in the matter, current affairs commentator Sang Pu said, RFA reported.
"The people of Hong Kong have no right to say no' or to approve any of this," Sang said. "The Hong Kong government isn't representative of public opinion, and [Beijing] wouldn't trust it to do anything [any more] anyway."
"If the Chinese government issues a directive, Hong Kong will accept it," he said. "There used to be room for discussion before, back in the era of [former chief executives] Donald Tsang and Leung Chun-ying."
Hong Kong is no longer the place it used to be, Sang said, adding that China has been moving to erase the internal border between Hong Kong and neighboring Chinese cities of what Beijing terms the "Greater Bay Area" in the Pearl River Delta region, RFA reported.
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