Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Busting the Baby Boom

The escalating issue of mainland women flocking to Hong Kong to give birth regardless of any links to the city has led to officials finally saying something about it.

Guangdong governor Zhu Xiaodan said a solution would be found but would not provide any details.

He was in town to attend a function yesterday and also discussed the issue with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

"You can be rest assured. There will be ways to solve it," Zhu said. When asked to clarify, he said, "You can rest assured, You can rest assured."

That's very reassuring.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said the Hong Kong government had proposed to Guangdong to cooperate to stamp out middlemen and agencies that arrange for pregnant mainlanders to come to Hong Kong.

Tam said Zhu was aware of the issue.

Last year 3,560 pregnant mainlanders were refused entry to Hong Kong out of nearly 90,000 women who were examined by immigration officials. About 43,000 mainland women gave birth in Hong Kong last year.

The main reason they flood the city is that children born in Hong Kong immediately get right of abode. And there are rumblings of changing the policy which would mean a reinterpretation of or an amendment to the Basic Law.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Mark Daly urged the Hong Kong government to conduct a study of the impact the growing number of pregnant mainlanders giving birth here might have before it decides what action to take.

"Like the domestic helper cases, there should be a proper study of how many this will affect... I am guessing they [the government] are exaggerating the effect of the mainland mother issue.

"It is very, very serious to be suggesting -- throwing out [for consideration] the idea of having -- a reinterpretation [of the Basic Law]. It is against the rule of law. It is against Hong Kong's legal system. That's one of our few advantages."

Some pan-democrats proposed amending the Basic Law, which Daly cautions means changing the constitution.

Many of the public say if one of the parents is a Hong Kong permanent resident, then the child should be allowed to be born in the city. Those without any kind of links should not be allowed in.

It's this growing resentment of mainlanders coming here to give birth as well as governmental restrictions on how many can cross the border that has led to some pregnant mainlanders to consider giving birth abroad in Canada and the United States. It's not a new phenomena -- there are already agencies that help these women get booked in hospitals and stay in cheap hotels or apartments until their due date.

By now Beijing should be taking notice. People are trying to leave China whichever way they can -- either through jobs or saving enough money to "invest" in a new country; students try to go abroad via secondary and tertiary education. And now parents are securing a better future for their child by literally bearing them elsewhere.

Doesn't the Chinese government realize its people want a better life elsewhere?

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