By Michael Ardaiolo
Photo by Xinhua
A week after receiving his formal appointment from Premier Wen Jiabao, Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect, Leung Chun-ying, declared a ban of mainland Chinese mothers from giving birth in private Hong Kong hospitals beginning in 2013.
From 2000 to 2011, the total number of children born in Hong Kong hospitals without a parent that permanently resided in the city-state made up 22 percent of total births. That is a back-loaded average though. In 2011, non-local women gave birth to 70 percent of all births at private hospitals. When combined with public Hong Kong hospitals, the number only drops to just under half.
This trend might be due to the quality of healthcare found in the Special Administrative Region. The data, however, also correlates closely with the 2001 ruling in the case of Director of Immigration v. Chong Fung Yuen, which declares that any child born in Hong Kong automatically attains to the right of permanent residency, regardless of the immigration status of the parents.
Motivations aside, the drastic influx of births has strained the city’s public healthcare system. It also diverts attention and obstetrics service away from local mothers. In addition, the “double negatives,” the local term for children with two mainland parents, are an essential element in the feud escalating between the citizens of Hong Kong and their northern neighbors.
The quota of mainland mothers giving birth in 2012 was reduced from 30,000 to 20,000, but CY Leung is making a complete ban a focal point of his first year in office. He announced that his government – through a series of administrative measures, such as a tighter boundary control and a crackdown on illegal transportation agents and unlicensed guesthouses – would not allow any pregnant mainland women to give birth in the territory unless their husbands are Hong Kong residents.
One wonders how his benefactors will react.