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Asia Minute: Hong Kong's new technology challenge centers on workers

Asia Economic Outlook
Kin Cheung/AP
FILE - In this June 10, 2019, file photo, a man walks past a money exchange shop decorated with different banknotes at Central, a business district of Hong Kong.

Technology firms in Hong Kong are facing a crisis.

This one's not related to stock valuations or debt issue and it's not directly tied to politics.

Itʻs all about jobs — recruiting and retaining qualified personnel.

Government figures show Hong Kong's workforce has shrunk by about 140,000 in the past two years.

A good number of those positions were held by expatriates — many of whom have now moved to locations from Singapore to Sydney.

The South China Morning Post reports the number of American businesses operating regional headquarters in Hong Kong fell by 10% in the past year, to a little more than 250.

The city's chief executive has recently rolled out a series of measures to ease visas and clear the way for companies to increase salaries without increasing government paperwork.

And it's not just a pursuit of expats.

Hong Kong's government has also increased investment in tech accelerator programs for start-ups, and grants for collaborative research with local universities.

But it remains to be seen if those measures will work.

Hong Kong has been hurt by everything from its response to the COVID-19 pandemic with extensive quarantine measures to a fall in freedom of expression, especially since China enacted a national security law in the city more than two years ago.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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