Visa reform, property ownership: Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee vows to lure foreign talent

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee on Wednesday said he wants to bolster the city’s competitiveness and attract more overseas talent, including graduates from top global universities. Delivering his inaugural policy address, Lee also said that Hong Kong will relax rules on property for non-permanent residents. 

In order to revive the city’s status as an international financial hub, two-year visas will be granted to high earners and top university graduates. “Apart from actively nurturing and retaining local talents, the government will proactively trawl the world for talents,” Lee said in his speech.

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Individuals earning salaries of HK$2.5 million ($318,475) or more during the past year, and graduates from the world’s top 100 universities with at least three years of work experience will be given two-year visas, he said.

Talking about national security, Lee stressed that strengthening it will remain a priority and more national security laws currently are being explored.

He also plans to introduce a bill within this year to offer a tax concession to eligible family offices with the target to attract at least 200 family offices to establish or expand their operations in Hong Kong by end-2025.

Hong Kong has lost its position as a financial hub to Singapore and other rivals in recent years and restoring this position is the biggest challenge for Lee.

China’s extreme control over political freedoms and strict COVID-19 curbs have led to over 200,000 foreigners and Hong Kongers leaving the city in the past two months. Even though curbs are now being rolled back, some of them are still in place, a major reason for the economic trouble Hong Kong finds itself in.

Several companies also shifted to other countries to get away from the pandemic restrictions which were inhibiting them to function properly. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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