2005 Research Report
Hong Kong as a World City: Assessing Its Attractiveness to Global Talent
The world economy today operates on a high degree of integration. Trade, investments and diffusion of technologies are now global. A growing proportion of the world’s workforce depends on faraway markets, sources of capital and know-how. At the same time, the world’s best human resource talent is becoming increasingly mobile. One of the great competitiveness battles among economies is over creative talent. Since competitiveness and creativity go hand in hand, a sign of a city’s attractiveness is the extent of flow of people wanting to visit and relocate to it. For much of the last century, Hong Kong received a tremendous flow of people from mainland China who left to escape war, civil war, revolution, poverty and to look for better opportunity.1 The flow continued until the last couple of years when the rate appears to be slowing substantially. Migration from Hong Kong was significant in the 1980s and up until 1997 due to fear of the political repercussions of the Handover from British to Chinese rule,
but that fear has eased and some of the migrants have returned to Hong Kong. There are signs that Hong Kong is depopulating2 although the number of visitors, primarily from mainland China, has increased dramatically over the last few years as China now allows more people to travel. How should these factors be viewed and what considerations should policy-makers take into account in mapping out Hong Kong’s future development from the perspective of retaining and attracting global talent as part
of its population policy?
This paper examines Hong Kong’s connectivity to the world and the city’s degree of attractiveness as a global talent magnet. This paper looks at the theory of world/ global cities as Hong Kong is classed as a 2nd tier world/global city, and examines the attributes of two undisputed leading cities, London and New York for insights. This paper also looks briefly at a number of international indices on globalization, competitiveness, creativity and economic freedom and compares Hong Kong’s rankings. In the concluding section, specific issues are raised for policy-makers to consider how Hong Kong may cement its reputation as a world/global city that continues to expand its ability to connect and attract the most productive and innovative talent.