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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora