Business & EconomyNew study shows Hongkongers grappling with Singapore’s growing regional dominance

New study shows Hongkongers grappling with Singapore’s growing regional dominance

Which city-state is number one in both financial and political stability seems to be the big question asked by Hongkongers who are getting more worried that their little Island is losing out to Singapore.

This is because of the recent announcement that Singapore has dethroned Hong Kong to become Asia’s top financial centre—and the third in the world behind New York and London.

The news has left many Hongkongers and Singaporeans to consider the changing dynamics in the region in different ways, according to the latest study by Blackbox Research and ADNA which covered 4,000 respondents in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Now, Hongongers are weary that Singapore is emerging as a serious competitor in the region and that the tide may be turning in Asia. Though many admit it is the case, a larger number of Hong Kong citizens would still remain loyal to their hometown, even if they worry about its future.

Optimism About Singapore’s Future

Both Singaporeans (68%) and Hongkongers (71%) believe that Singapore is moving confidently into the future.

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Only 22% of Singaporeans and 20% of Hongkongers think likewise of Hong Kong. Areas where Singaporeans think they enjoy the biggest advantage over Hong Kong include having better strategies to deal with COVID-19, being a good place to raise a family, having better quality of housing, and being a good place to work (see Figure 2 above).

The confidence in Singapore’s future may also stem from the city-state’s measures to promote technological innovation – 50% of Singaporeans believe that Singapore is well-placed to become a leading global technology hub in the future. Only 31% of polled Hongkongers feel their city is poised to achieve the same.

When asked to rank the most important cities in Asia today, both Hongkongers and Singaporeans rank Hong Kong and Singapore in the top two spots (see Figure 1)

Figure 1

HongKongers Worry That HK is bruised

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 In recent years, Hong Kong has been left reeling from political turmoil, strict COVID-19 restrictions, and an exodus of talent. Despite this, 42% of Hongkongers still think of their city as the most important in the region compared to 34% of Singaporeans who think likewise of their city.

Many Hongkongers still believe their city has many qualities which offer an advantage over Singapore – from better food to vibrant local culture, to being more cosmopolitan (see below). Hongkongers also believe their city is a good place to work and make money compared to Singapore.

Figure 2

China integration Perceived Negatively

 While China wants its ‘One China’ principle to be perceived in a positive light, Hongkongers are yet to be convinced. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) surveyed Hongkongers view integration with the mainland as offering more disadvantages than advantages to them.

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This comes at a time of growing criticism of China’s management of Hong Kong, both in governance and the management of the COVID-19 crisis.

Singaporeans echo these sentiments too, with 99% in the island nation believing that integration with China poses more disadvantages than gains for Hong Kong at this point in time.

Non-stop Hong Kong’s brain drain 

The well-reported desire of Hongkongers to migrate is supported in this study too – 41% of polled in Hong Kong say they would emigrate tomorrow if they had the chance, indicating that the city’s brain drain might worsen in the future. Whereas in Singapore, only a mere 8% expressed a similar desire to leave the city-state for another.

2 in 3 also feel that Singapore is likely to be more ‘future-proof’ in terms of its growth trajectory. However, this sentiment does not translate into a desire to move to Singapore specifically. In fact, less than 1 in 5 (18%) respondents in Hong Kong chose Singapore as a potential migration destination. The ones picking Singapore as their ‘next home’ tend to be Hong Kong-based expats.

The study is by Blackbox Research and ADNA..

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