Pollution hits HK livability

Local | Jane Cheung Mar 14, 2018
Jane Cheung

Air pollution levels have kept Hong Kong in 28th place for the third successive year on the list of the world's most livable cities for Asian expatriates, according to a human resources advisory firm.

ECA regional director for Asia, Lee Quane, said Hong Kong is not only affected by serious air pollution, but health risks too. To illustrate his point, he cited the outbreak of SARS in 2003, and swine flu in 2009.

"Hong Kong is well-known for its highly dense population and diseases spread easily," he said.

Quane attributed the climate - especially frequent typhoons in the summer - as another factor that deters companies from sending their employees here.

"Work is often disrupted by adverse weather conditions, such as black rainstorms and typhoons," he said.

Political tensions have also contributed to Hong Kong's low ranking.

Quane referred to the Occupy movement in late 2014, saying the government failed to showcase its autonomy.

"The arrest of the Causeway Bay book seller and other incidents have posed threats to the city's judiciary independence as well," he said.

Quane said Hong Kong has been on a downward trend since 2014, and hasn't seen an improvement in living conditions.

Although the SAR hasn't risen in the global rankings, it remains the most livable Chinese city for Asian expatriates, followed by Taipei in 65th place, Macau in 100th, and Beijing in 134th.

Quane said Taipei and Macau were ranked behind Hong Kong since they're more frequently affected by adverse weather. He cited the disastrous typhoon in Macau last year that almost paralyzed the city to once again drive home his point.

He said Beijing fell 10 spots in the rankings - from 124th last year - mainly due to the tightened restriction on information flow.

"The Beijing government further strengthened internet censorship, and banned virtual private networks in the past year," he said. "Expats can't go on Google and Facebook. Even WhatsApp doesn't function in mainland China."

Meanwhile, Singapore has topped the rankings for 16 consecutive years.

Quane said the Lion City enjoys advantages such as a consistent climate, better health care facilities, and less political tension. However, Hong Kong is better in terms of convenient public transportation and press freedom.

Quane said the proximity between Asian expats' hometown and the host city is also an important factor.

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January 2019