News / Asia

Hong Kong Frustrated About Influx of Chinese Births

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid