Restaurant offers staff from China chance to fly to Hong Kong

Popular, celebrity-run Cantonese eatery in Chinese territory asks staff to wait up to four years before taking flight

A restaurant group is offering 250 staff from Asia the chance to fly to Hong Kong by air ambulance for free because its three branches have two thirds fewer staff than a decade ago.

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Popular China has said it will pay $650,000 (£473,000) for staff members to fly to Hong Kong four times a year to see their families between May and September – a chance to escape normal life in China and escape the pressure to work hard.

The business, which specialises in offering Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine, has three branches, which are located in southern China’s Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi provinces.

Although some of the restaurants and restaurants groups in the city employ staff from China, the article said many would come from areas outside of cities, such as small rural towns, poor areas or areas with high unemployment.

The article said about 25% of the people in its three branches had to travel to Hong Kong to see their families. However, as the population of Hong Kong swells to nearly 7 million, the outlet said it needed to hire more staff to meet the demand.

It said one branch – on the southern Chinese island of Hainan – did not have any staff except nine workers on a local contract and had to hire two people for Hong Kong, therefore they couldn’t afford to pay for staff to come to the city.

Hong Kong has recently become a competitor to mainland China for foreign investment because of its pro-Western, pro-trade stance. It is home to Hong Kong’s biggest exchange, and has a rich heritage of luxury brands, famous names and art, design and architecture.

However, the territory has been struggling with a population growth that far outstrips the annual urban growth rate of 2.1%.

Protesters occupied parts of Hong Kong streets in 2014, demanding true democratic freedoms from Beijing and a plan to let Chinese nationals vote for local chief executive elections by secret ballot in 2017.

The protester movement led to China allowing greater autonomy for Hong Kong residents, but it also prompted a diplomatic crisis between China and the UK, which has diplomatic ties with Hong Kong.

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