26th March 2013
<Last Minute A&E Labour Cases Surge by 50% Last Month>
Public hospitals stopped accepting delivery appointments from Mainland Chinese women at the beginning of this year. Yesterday, Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Security, announced the “positive news” that ther have been only 40 cases of Mainland Chinese women crashing the emergency wards to deliver babies in the last two months, that is around 20 cases per month on average. However, according to the Hospital Authority’s records for the past two months, there were 56 cases recorded. The number of cases recorded in February was up 50% compared to that in January. Lai is suspected to have deliberately provided a misleading figure and the increase causes the public to doubt the effectiveness of the Immigration Department’s attempt to stop pregnant Mainland Chinese women from entering Hong Kong for the purposes of giving birth*.
Hong Kong SAR Government implemented the “zero quota” measure to stop Mainland Chinese women from giving birth in Hong Kong. Public and private hospitals rejects all appointments from these women. Mainland Chinese wives of Hong Kong citizens can, however, make appointments with private hospitals. Lai said yesterday that only around 20 cases of Mainland Chinese women crashing the emergency wards to deliver babies per month in the recent two months. However, he did not specific how many of them are anchor babies (neither parents are Hong Kong citizens) and how many of these newborns are semi-anchor.
Lai pointed out that the laws clearly stated that China citizens who are born in Hong Kong can enjoy Hong Kong residence. He also said that the law enforcement departments will spare no efforts to stop Mainland Chinese women from giving birth in Hong Kong (in order to gain Hong Kong residence and subsequently enjoy all the benefits Hong Kong tax payers contributed to), and collaborate with PRC law enforcements to clamp down “middlemen” businesses (companies that help Mainland Chinese entering Hong Kong and arrange them to stay even after their visas expire and provide accommodations to hide from the law enforcements – because they can only enter Hong Kong if they do not look heavily pregnant). He also said that the court has placed heavy sentences on those middlemen who were arrested.
However, data from the Hospital Authority shows that there were 22 and 34 cases in January and February respectively, averaging 28 cases a month, which is higher than the figure provided by Lai (20 cases a month). The number of cases in February was 50% higher than that in January, and over 100% more than the number in December 2012. Out of the 56 cases recorded, 50 of them are anchor babies, meaning neither father nor mother is Hong Kong citizen.
Local Hong Kongers have been expressing concern over the “anchor” baby issue for more than two years. Due to the one-child policy in PRC, Chinese women do not take any ante-natal tests to avoid being fined by the PRC government. Hence, some newborns have been born with genetic diseases or other health issues, many of which can be detected at the early stage of the pregnancy. There are also numerous cases in which parents refused to pay the hospital bill and fled. These Chinese mothers would wait until their water is broken, and then visit the emergency ward, so that the hospital cannot reject their cases.
The key reason that encourages the Mainland Chinese to risk the lives of their own and their children, however, is Hong Kong citizenship. Chinese national babies who are born in Hong Kong will be given local citizenship automatically. This allows these anchor babies to enjoy lifelong medical, education and social benefits that Hong Kong tax payers pay for.
The parents of these children can apply to become Hong Kong citizens, stipulating “family reunion” as the reason, once the child reaches 18 and takes up residence. There are multiple cases reported by the local press saying families with anchor babies emigrated to Hong Kong (one case is a family of nine), and all of them are taking benefits from the Hong Kong government (including unemployment subsidies, elderly subsidies, etc). As these anchor babies begin to go to school, they also apply for all sorts of subsidies that many local children cannot apply for as their parents earn a humble salary – for example, these anchor babies are guaranteed to pay no school fee, a new school bag every year, new uniforms every year, etc.
As these anchor babies reach school age, their parents rush to Hong Kong public schools in the districts closest to the boarder (e.g. Sheung Shui), forcing local students to go to far away districts to attend school. A shortage of school space began this year.
In contrast, children of Hong Kong citizens who live in China (some families moved to China because of work) cannot go to public school in China and have to study in extremely expensive private schools.