Aug 22, 2019 08:40 PM

Charts of the Day: Hong Kong and the Mainland’s Intertwined Economies

Hong Kong is on the verge of recession amid social unrest and the escalating U.S.-China trade war. Official data released on Aug. 16 showed that Hong Kong’s GDP growth for the second quarter dipped to 0.5% year-on-year, the lowest in nearly a decade. The city’s GDP declined 0.4% quarter-on-quarter.

The number of people visiting the region has dipped in the last two months, taking a toll on its tourism and retail sectors, said (link in Chinese) Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of Hong Kong Edward Yau.

The trade war between the world’s two largest economies has been hitting Hong Kong’s logistics sector, a key pillar of the harbor city’s economy. In the first half of 2019, the value of Hong Kong's exported and imported goods fell 3.6% and 4.5% year-on-year respectively. The value of goods exported to the Chinese mainland fell 6%, while exports to the U.S. fell 11.1%.

These figures demonstrate the close links between the economies of the mainland and Hong Kong, which can also be illustrated in the following charts.

Most of the mainland’s inbound direct investment comes from Hong Kong. And most outbound direct investment by the mainland flows to Hong Kong.

In the first seven months of 2019, $55.37 billion of inbound direct investment in the mainland came from Hong Kong (including investment via free ports such as the Cayman Islands, Mauritius and Barbados), accounting for 70.27% of the total, according to data (link in Chinese) from China’s Ministry of Commerce.


The value of direct investment from Hong Kong in the mainland in 2018 was $89.9 billion — excluding investment through free ports — which was way more than investment from anywhere else.


In 2017, $91.2 billion of the mainland’s outbound direct investment flowed into Hong Kong, making it the most important destination for mainland capital. Britain’s Virgin Islands ranked second, attracting $19.3 billion.


In the first half of 2019, 27.6 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong, accounting for nearly 80% of tourists to the city. Last year the number of mainland tourists to Hong Kong exceeded 50 million, a record high.


In 2017, the number of mainland migrants to Hong Kong was about 47,000, down 10,400 from the previous year.

According to data released by the Hong Kong Immigration Department in February, the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, a program to attract mainland residents “who possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong” approved 13,768 applications in 2018.


This story has been updated with revision information.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (

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