By Cal Widdall
In the latest series of events causing tension between Hong Kongers and Mainlanders, Cheung Wan Lai, director of hospital groups at the Hospital Authority, revealed that the quota for foreigners giving birth in Hong Kong has been reduced from 10,000 in 2011 to just 3,400 in 2012.
Measures to meet the reduced quota have already been implemented. A policy requiring women over seven months pregnant to pre-pay HK$39000 for hospital bills before being allowed entry was brought into effect yesterday. Immigration officers have reportedly been told to turn back any woman who hasn’t paid if she appears to be past the seven-month cut off point, guaranteeing a rise in the number of women travelling in big, baggy sweaters.
Since the late 1990’s, Hong Kong’s policy of giving citizenship to any baby born within their borders, along with providing a way to evade the mainland’s one child policy, has caused an influx of Mainlanders going to elaborate lengths to ensure they give birth there. This has meant that, despite Hong Kong women having one of the world’s lowest birthrates, maternity wards have remained over-stretched and costly to the region’s autonomous government.
On January 15th more than 1,500 Hong Kongers took to the streets in protest of this ‘invasion’ of mainlanders, and two weeks later members of the HKGolden.com forum raised HK$100,000 to take out a full page newspaper advertisement demanding a stop to the “unlimited infiltration of mainland Chinese couples into Hong Kong”.
Whilst Beijing has been typically quiet over the developments (to avoid being accused of interfering with the region’s autonomy), concerns have been raised that women in the early stages of pregnancy will resort to being naughty and overstay their visa. Those sneaky pregnant women.
Whether or not they can find their British Daddies, it appears Hong Kongers are about to lose their Chinese Mummies.
Related: Watch: Al-Jazeera investigates PRC citizens’ invasion of Hong Kong