The Census and Statistics Department has just released the provisional figures for Hong Kong's population at the end of last year, which stands at 7.531 million people. Compared to the figures at the end of 2022, there has been an increase of over 30,000 individuals. The main reason for this population growth is the net in-migration of nearly 52,000 residents during 2023.
After the conclusion of an eight-day Golden Week celebration during the Lunar New Year in mainland China, the Chief Executive provided a positive assessment, stating that Hong Kong successfully attracted nearly 1.44 million visitors during this period. Notably, the occupancy rates of hotels were satisfactory, and both the catering and retail industries directly benefited from the influx of tourists.
I remember the elderly at home saying that in the past, when the postman delivered telegrams to the door, you had to give him two dollars as a "tea fee" before you could receive the telegram. The situation in hospitals was even worse. If you didn't bribe them, no one would take care of you or provide any necessary support.
In the current economic climate, businesses in Hong Kong are striving to find new breakthroughs and highlights for their ventures. Given that the aging population is becoming a trend in Hong Kong, it can undoubtedly become a "blue ocean" for economic development. Moreover, this market is not limited to Hong Kong alone; it extends to the vast mainland China beyond the Shenzhen River.
The national policy aims to strengthen the connectivity between domestic and international financial markets, creating a favorable environment for cross-border investment and financing. For Hong Kong, this is an opportunity that aligns perfectly with its interests. Enhancing financial market connectivity involves improving mechanisms such as Stock Connect and Bond Connect, as well as providing optimized products in areas such as RMB stocks, RMB bonds, RMB funds, and insurance. As an international financial center, HK naturally stands to benefit from these developments.
Recently, I went to Lantau Island with my family to have lunch and buy seafood. Afterwards, we visited the mangroves at the Wetland Park. Witnessing the remarkable adaptability of the animals and plants there, I couldn't help but be amazed. Mangroves are a natural treasure in Hong Kong.
According to data released by the Census and Statistics Department, the number of births per thousand people in Hong Kong in 2022 was 32.5, a decrease compared to 37.0 in 2021. Hong Kong's birth rate is already the lowest in the world. Looking at the data from last year, each woman in Hong Kong gave birth to only 0.8 babies, lower than countries like South Korea and Singapore. If this continues, not only will Hong Kong's productivity and competitiveness be affected, but even the basic vitality and dynamism of the city will be lost. In other words, it has become a matter of survival.
At the 17th Asian Financial Forum (AFF), which took place in Hong Kong on Jan 24-25, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu emphasized the potential for Hong Kong as a hub for companies to create opportunities in Asia and globally. He noted that international cooperation has become more important than ever in the context of globalization and decoupling upgrades.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many elderly individuals and chronic illness patients have succumbed to severe pneumonia, acute respiratory system diseases, and subsequent multiple organ dysfunction, resulting in death. As a result, many people developed anxiety and fear regarding the severity of pneumonia and the fear of death. These anxieties stemmed not only from concerns about their own health but also from the fear of losing loved ones and worries about various aspects of life.
The lives of modern individuals heavily rely on mobile phones and the internet. Not long ago, the computer systems of Cyberport and the Consumer Council were hacked and held for ransom, resulting in the malicious disclosure of personal information. If larger-scale systems, such as financial transactions, airport management, railway management, and medical services, were to be compromised, the entire Hong Kong would be paralyzed, with unimaginable consequences.
Recently, I came across an online article by Nicolas Aguzin, the CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), stating that China has achieved international leadership in various innovative fields. Breakthroughs have been made in technologies and products related to mobile phone chips, and significant progress has been achieved in AI technologies such as language recognition and processing, demonstrating the accelerating development of Chinese technology.
As the Christmas and New Year holidays come to an end, everyone is returning to their work positions. At the end of the Christmas break, I heard from a tourism industry professional in Hong Kong through the radio that there was a significant gap between the number of inbound tourists during the holiday period and the anticipated figures.
Hong Kong was once renowned as the "Food Paradise" of the world, but the current plight faced by the food and beverage industry is widely known. Internally, some eateries in Hong Kong have experienced a decline in food quality, improper handling of goods, and subpar service in recent years. Additionally, some tourists find Hong Kong's cuisine to be monotonous, with a repetitive array of curry fish balls, egg waffles, and stir-fried rice noodles lacking innovation.
Currently, in Hong Kong, there is approximately one person aged 65 or above for every 4.5 individuals, and one person aged 80 or above for every 20 people. Like many developed countries, Hong Kong is experiencing a significant trend of population aging. It is estimated that in the near future, one-third of the population will be elderly. By 2036, one out of every three individuals will be elderly, accounting for approximately 2.37 million people.