A Hong Kong court on Tuesday sentenced a mainland Chinese woman to eight months in jail for lying about her pregnancy upon her entry into the territory, as measures to limit mainland births are stepped up.
The 26-year-old woman entered Hong Kong late last month, when she was 38 weeks pregnant, after she produced a fake medical certificate that claimed she had completed 28 weeks of pregnancy, a government statement said.
At the border, the woman said she came to Hong Kong for sightseeing, but checks revealed she had previously been turned back by authorities in June for not having a hospital booking.
The woman was again denied entry, but she reported sick and was subsequently admitted to hospital. She gave birth 10 days later.
“Under the laws of Hong Kong, any person who makes false representation to an immigration officer commits an offense,” an immigration department spokesman said about the eight months sentence.
“The immigration department will continue to step up checking at control points to prevent non-local pregnant women who do not have confinement booking from coming to Hong Kong,” he said.
The southern Chinese territory of seven million people has been struggling to cope with tens of thousands of mainland Chinese women who arrive yearly to give birth, thereby gaining residency rights for their children.
Mainlanders accounted for nearly half of Hong Kong’s 88,000 births in 2010, prompting an outcry over shortages of beds in maternity wards and the soaring cost of childbirth in the former British colony.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) said in April that he would ban pregnant mainlanders whose husbands were not from Hong Kong, dubbed “double negatives,” from giving birth in local hospitals starting next year.
And in May, authorities warned expectant mothers from the mainland against rushing to emergency wards without prior bookings, saying they were putting their babies’ lives at risk.
The government set a quota of 31,000 mainland mothers in private hospitals this year and 3,400 at state hospitals.