More HK workers losing jobs to mainlanders in delta
Study assesses challenges for the city's manufacturers
More Hongkongers' positions in Pearl River Delta enterprises have been taken up by mainlanders, and the trend is continuing, a study by the University of Hong Kong has found.
The study showed that the ratio of Hong Kong staff to mainland employees in companies interviewed in the delta had dropped from 1:120 in 2003 to 1:170 last year.
More than a quarter of the companies said mainlanders had replaced Hong Kong staff in their research and development departments, while 20 per cent said the replacements had occurred in the accounting, marketing, sales, financial and legal affairs sectors.
The study also found the Pearl River Delta was believed to be less attractive compared with the Yangtze River Delta in terms of infrastructure, policy support and cultural and natural environment.
The findings are part of a study commissioned by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges facing the city's manufacturing industry.
It collected opinions from more than 2,500 Hong Kong-funded enterprises in nine cities in the Pearl River Delta - Shenzhen, Dongguan , Huizhou, Guangzhou, Zhuhai , Zhongshan , Jiangmen , Foshan and Zhaoqing from September 2005 to March last year.
Richard Wong Yue-chim, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, who led the survey team, said position replacement differed in different cities in the region.
'In the cities more familiar with foreign investments, like Shenzhen and Dongguan, there were more companies having mainland staff fill Hongkongers' positions,' Professor Wong said. Yet in the cities with less experience of absorbing foreign funds, especially in the west of the delta, there were considerably fewer employers who believed they were able to find suitable people locally to replace Hong Kong staff.
The study found about 55,200 Hong Kong-funded enterprises in the delta, accounting for 72 per cent of foreign-funded enterprises in the region. These enterprises are running 57,500 factories, which employ 9.6 million workers.
Professor Wong said the traditional scenario of 'shops in Hong Kong and factories in Guangdong' had been changing for the past 20 years, with more enterprises only using Hong Kong as a source of capital. He said this period had seen an increasing number of Hong Kong entrepreneurs looking to the Yangtze River Delta, centred on Shanghai.
'Although the business environment in the Pearl River Delta has improved a lot in recent years, the region is still regarded as weak in social security and cultural and natural environment compared to its rivals. It has to seek ways to keep the existing enterprises and attract new customers,' Professor Wong said.
The survey showed that half the respondents had not set up offices or factories in Hong Kong. 'But they can take advantage of the communication network and the convenience of customs clearance if they want to use Hong Kong's services,' he said.