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Hong Kong welcomes reverse migrants

Reporter: Cathy Yang 丨 CCTV.com

02-10-2015 04:17 BJT

Hong Kong used to be an exporter of talents of all kinds. But thanks to the mainland's economic boom, a new generation of Hong Kong immigrants are being drawn back to the city for job opportunities. 

Thirty-one year-old Ivan Ho was born in Vancouver to Hong Kong parents who moved to Canada. As for twenty-nine year-old Nick So, he was just four when his parents moved to Vancouver from Hong in 19-90.

Growing up in this Canadian city, Nick and Ivan have seen Vancouver turn into “Hongcouver”, as more and more from Hong Kong moved into the neighborhood.

After the global financial crisis, thousands have since returned to Hong Kong, with the Mainland economy on the upswing.

"If there was a job offer there that was enticing enough to up and move over there that would be great," says Nick So, son of HK migrants in Canada.

"They haven’t encouraged me to move there but they’re there once in a while to visit relatives," says Ivan Ho, Canada to HK emigrant.

Now, the Hong Kong government wants more of the likes of Ivan and Nick, the young, working-age emigrants – to come back home.

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung highlighted the need to beef up the city’s talent pool – in his recent policy address. He announced a pilot scheme that would allow overseas children of Hong Kong permanent residents to apply for one-year visas – to give them a chance to look for work in the city.

"We don't really need to attract capital investment at the moment as we have seen excessive capital in some areas, such as in the property market. What we need now is talent, rather than capital," says CY Leung, HK Chief Executive. 

Hong Kong wants second generation emigrants from all over the world – to come back. They want those aged 18 to 40, have a university degree, can understand English or Chinese – and prove they can afford to live in the city. But can these emigrants really fill the shortage of talent in Hong Kong?

Reuben Mondejar says they could -- but only for a short while.

"Those who will be attracted will look at Hong Kong as a platform for bigger things and those bigger things is the market of Mainland," says Reuben Mondejar, associate professor of Department of Management of City University.  

Mondejar says those who do take up the one-year visa offer are likely to use the time to brush up on their Mandarin – opening doors for them to the Mainland.

And as they’ve got relatives in Hong Kong to stay with, they won’t have to break their wallets paying for sky-high rents and homes while they’re here.

The pressures though of a high-density, high-intensity city as Hong Kong is something Nick and Ivan are wary of having grown up for the most part in laid-back Vancouver.

"From what I hear the work-life balance isn’t as good as in North America I guess or in Canada in general," Ho says. 

The pilot scheme begins from the second quarter this year. Judging from thousands of inquires last year, sources say, the government expects a rush of applicants. Nick and Ivan may very well be among them.

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