Wed, Apr 18, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Hong Kong’s next leader seeks to ban mainland babies

AFP, HONG KONG

Hong Kong’s next leader yesterday said he plans to ban pregnant Chinese from giving birth in the territory and to deny their children residency rights, in a bid to ease pressure on local hospitals.

The territory has been struggling to cope with tens of thousands of Chinese women who arrive every year to give birth, thereby gaining residency rights for their children and dodging China’s one child policy.

Mainlanders accounted for nearly half of Hong Kong’s 88,000 births in 2010, prompting an outcry over shortages of places in maternity wards and the soaring cost of childbirth.

Incoming Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) said he would ban pregnant Chinese whose husbands were not from Hong Kong, dubbed “double negatives,” from giving birth in local hospitals next year.

“I hope the ‘double negative’ pregnant mainland Chinese women understand this message,” Leung told public broadcaster RTHK less than a month after he was chosen to succeed Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權).

“If they have registered and prepared to give birth here next year, it is very likely that their child will not be entitled to the residency rights,” he said.

Leung takes office on July 1.

His remarks prompted a mixed response from activists and medical practitioners, with campaigners who have taken to the streets to protest the influx of Chinese women lauding his plan.

Christine Chan, the spokeswoman of a Facebook campaign set up to protest against mainland mothers, applauded Leung’s tough stance.

“We need to send out a very clear message,” she said. “They have put an unprecedented strain on our medical and education resources, and push up prices of baby products like baby formula. I think it’s high time for us to deal with this issue.”

However, doctors warned the government against rushing into a decision that could have financial consequences for hospitals.

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