The city is accepting too many immigrants from the mainland, according to half of the Hongkongers polled in a survey released on Thursday.
Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, 50.6 per cent wanted to see a reduction in the number of mainland immigrants allowed into the city.
About 150 mainland immigrants per day, on average, have moved here since the 1997 handover – about 54,000 per year.
Only 16.8 per cent of respondents said the number of mainland immigrants should be increased.
The survey, by the Hong Kong Institute of Education, was conducted in February, asking 1,024 residents aged 18 or older about the impact the immigrants had on their economic well-being.
Over 21 per cent said there should be a “significant” decrease while almost 29 per cent supported a “slight” decrease in the immigrant flow.
Over half – 52.8 per cent – said new immigrants depended on the city’s welfare benefits rather than making contributions to society. Only 2.9 per cent thought the contrary, while 38.8 per cent thought the immigrants did both.
The researchers said the survey results showed Hongkongers had generally negative perceptions of new immigrants, fearing the arrivals would reduce their job opportunities and cut salary levels.
Professor Chou Kee-lee, who led the research, said Hongkongers most likely to hold negative views of new immigrants were women, elderly people and those with lower levels of education and affluence.