Al-Jazeera (who have recently landed on American airwaves, by the way) takes a look at the phenomenon of mainland Chinese citizens popping over to Hong Kong to pop out their babies (known as ‘Birth Tourism’) in order to ensure their children are Hong Kong citizens, and other ways that the Special Administrative Region’s public services sectors are being stretched by PRC citizens.
Invasion from the mainland is nothing new
Though birth tourism in Hong Kong is part of a larger umbrella of issues all related to well-off Chinese citizens and the perceived value of a foreign passport/residency, which includes women having anchor babies in America and richers buying themselves foreign residency with expensive investments, Hong Kong has been experiencing ‘invasions’ from mainlanders ever since the Communists took power in 1949.
The 1950s and 1960s saw a huge influx of mainland immigrants fleeing to Hong Kong to escape disastrous Communist policies, with many even coming from Shanghai.
Everyone’s favorite brooding auteur, the Shanghai-born Wong Kar-Wai, is probably the most notable product of that era of immigration: born in 1958, Wong moved to Hong Kong as a five-year-old unable to speak Cantonese, and retreated to films as a way to escape his nascent world-weariness.
A crisis of faith
But regardless if it’s Chinese women having kids in Hong Kong or Los Angeles County, or rich investors buying property (and foreign residency) in New York or Korea or Latvia, we’d argue that the border-crossing being done by wealthy mainlanders is indicative of the lack of faith that PRC citizens have in their own country, in its healthcare and educational systems, and also its political and social future.
What else could an investment in a foreign residency and making sure your kids aren’t Chinese citizens signify, other than a profound expression of doubt over China’s future?
Then again, without a participatory political system where mainlanders feel like they have a stake in the notion of being a citizen (and not to mention the freedom to travel), it’s easy to understand why the shedding of one’s Chinese passport and nationality is something many strive to achieve.
As we said before, it seems the 21st century Chinese Dream is simply finding a way to leave the country, like so many Europeans of bygone seafaring epochs.