News / Asia

Hong Kong Frustrated About Influx of Chinese Births

Ivan Broadhead

Some residents in Hong Kong are expressing frustration at the pressure put on its public services by thousands of pregnant women from mainland China. Some people believe these expectant mothers are secretly entering the territory to give birth and secure for their child the so-called "right of abode" in Hong Kong and lifelong access to a standard of public education and health care unavailable in China.

Hong Kong has proudly preserved a unique social and cultural identity, both under British colonial rule and since the return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

That identity continues to flourish, in part because Beijing has tolerated Hong Kong’s relative autonomy since the hand over under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems.”

But legislator Leung Yiu-chung does not believe that Hong Kong residents identify readily with the notion of one nation.

“When you are talking about identity, I think people in Hong Kong seldom recognize themselves as Chinese; from China.  We don’t want the Chinese government, or Chinese people who come from China, to rule Hong Kong,” Leung said.

Direct political influence aside, there is increasing concern that Hong Kong’s identity risks being diluted by an ever-growing number of pregnant mainland Chinese women entering the territory to give birth.

According to Health Secretary York Chow, in 2005 such child births numbered “in the hundreds.” By last year, more than 40,000 children, or about one-half the total number of babies born in Hong Kong, were born to mothers from across the border.

Hong Kong University constitutional law analyst Benny Tai says that, if that rate continues, in 10 to 15 years mainland Chinese will form a substantial part of the Hong Kong population.  
“So people will worry that this will change the culture of Hong Kong society; our core values will be “polluted.” That is why it is contentious,” Tai stated.

Hong Kong immigration officials refused entry to 3,560 pregnant mainland women last year. But more are arriving in Hong Kong every day; some opportunistically walking through border controls, others smuggled across by organized crime syndicates in trucks and even speedboats.

The health service says it cannot cope. Emergency room staff are overwhelmed by the number of mainland women in labor - around 1,650 in 2011 compared to just 500 in 2010.

As a deterrent, Mainlanders are now charged around $6,000 to give birth in the territory. However, a 2001 judgment by the Court of Final Appeal found that Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, confers the right of abode on any child of Mainland parents born in the territory.

The right of abode confers eligibility to access Hong Kong’s public services, including health, education and housing. Critics say $6,000 is money well spent to pay for services that are unavailable in China.

Public protests are increasing. They include pregnant Hong Kong women who say their own deliveries are threatened by the strains put on medical resources.

The identity debate intensified in late December, when Hong Kong University’s annual public opinion poll on perceptions of ethnicity indicated that over 70 percent of respondents considered themselves to be “Hongkongers” before being “Chinese.” The figure represented a 10-year high.

Within days, the polling unit’s director, Robert Chung, was publicly rebuked by Hao Tiechuan, a senior Beijing envoy.

Hao was quoted in local media, saying that Hong Kong is not an independent political entity.

With the Chinese year of the Dragon approaching -- a popular and auspicious year to give birth -- the debate about mainland babies has been picked up by candidates in Hong Kong’s forthcoming leadership election.

On Sunday, Albert Ho was chosen by the city’s pan-democratic coalition to compete against two pro-Beijing candidates for the office of chief executive. In a radio broadcast Monday, he called for the Basic Law to be amended to, in his words, “plug the floodgates”.

Benny Tai agrees that such an outcome could occur, but says he has reservations. “To amend the Basic Law … or to have a reinterpretation of the Basic Law … creates more problems," he said. "That will require the assistance of the central government.”

Any intervention by Beijing would inevitably cause concern in a city used to solving its own problems, without Mainland interference.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid