Hong Kong’s population increased by 69,000 in 2018, representing a 0.9 per cent rise from the year before. The majority of the increase was made up of one-way permit holders from mainland China.

The provisional estimate of the Hong Kong population stood at 7,482,500 at the end of 2018, rising from 7,413,100 at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department on Tuesday.

In 2018, there were 53,700 births and 47,000 deaths. There was a net movement of 62,700 people, of which 42,300 were one-way permit holders settling in Hong Kong from China.

Population in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Under the one-way permit scheme, 150 people can move to Hong Kong from the mainland each day. The Hong Kong government has no power to vet who can come.

In 2017, 47,000 people moved from the mainland to Hong Kong via the permit scheme. The number was the highest in 2016 when 57,400 permit holders moved to Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said on Tuesday that Hong Kong people should not adopt an exclusionary attitude over immigrants, amid claims new arrivals are putting a strain upon the city’s healthcare resources.

Statistics on one-way permit holders. Photo: GovHK.

“I urge people to adopt a tolerant attitude to welcome family members of Hong Kong residents to come to Hong Kong for family reunions,” she said.

But lawmakers said in response that Hong Kong cannot sustain the number of new immigrants every year.

Lawmaker Gary Fan said Lam was the chair of the Steering Committee on Population Policy when she was the chief secretary between 2012 and 2017, and she was responsible for the situation: “Her population policy is a laissez-faire one, causing over-capacity with the population in Hong Kong. There are huge pressures on healthcare, education, social welfare and housing,” Fan said.


By government definitions, the Hong Kong population consists of usual and mobile residents. By the end of 2018, 7,249,400 were usual residents and 233,100 were mobile residents.

Usual residents are Hong Kong permanent residents who have stayed in the city for at least three months during the six months before or after the reference time-point.

Mobile residents are people who have stayed in Hong Kong for at least one month, but less than three months, during the six months before or after the reference time-point.

Mong Kok District in Kowloon, listed by Guinness World Records as one of the world’s most densely populated places, with the equivalent of 130,000 people per square kilometre. File Photo: GovHK.

The latest population figured are released on a provisional basis, and a revised figure will be released six months later.

The revised figure for the mid-year population for 2018 stands at 7,451,000. The number of usual residents was revised to 7,227,800, and the number of mobile residents to 223,200.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.