Hong Kong plans to ban the women of mainland China from giving birth in the territory, its chief executive said Monday, the latest sign of tension between the metropolis and the rest of the Asian nation.
In a debate that echoes alarm about “anchor babies” in the United States, some have complained that babies born in Hong Kong of mainland women are guaranteed the right of residency.
Hong Kong is shelling out too much money on mainland women at the expense of locals, those critics complain. One Hong Kong official claimed that nearly half of babies born in Hong Kong hospitals last year were the offspring of non-local women, China Daily reported earlier this month.
In line with such criticism, Hong Kong has already cut down the number of outsiders allowed to give birth in its hospitals. Now, in a new move, mainland mothers will be banned from birthing in the territory unless they’re married to a Hong Kong resident, Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying told Radio Television Hong Kong. The ban will go into effect next year, the radio station reported.
The Times' Jonathan Kaiman and Barbara Demick wrote in February about the insults lobbed at the millions of mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong, including complaints about women giving birth:
In January, 1,500 Hong Kong women stood in a pouring rain outside a maternity clinic calling for the government to stem the tide of "double negatives," their term for children whose parents are both mainlanders. Another anti-mainland demonstration is scheduled for Feb. 12 to protest plans to allow motorists from neighboring Guangdong province to drive their cars into Hong Kong.
Last year, an Internet music video called "Locust World" enumerated Hong Kong natives' complaints in the form of a saccharine Cantonese pop song. Against a black-and-white video of swarms of locusts devouring a field, the singer painted a portrait of mainland tourists spitting in public, yelling into cellphones and allowing their children to defecate on the streets."The locusts will stop at nothing," he croons. "Inch by inch, Hong Kong is being taken over by these pests."
Outraged mainlanders, in turn, have derided Hong Kong residents as colonial snobs, Kaiman and Demick wrote. Though China has ruled Hong Kong for 15 years, the territory enjoys significant political autonomy and retains a distinct culture from its British colonial past, which can put it at odds with the mainland.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: In this 2007 photo, a nurse cares for babies in a hospital in Hong Kong. Credit: Kin Cheung / Associated Press