The Real Hong Kong News
9th June, 2015
The Illegal Immigrant Xiao Youhuai
Sources: Apple Daily, Headline News, Local Press, Ming Pao, Passion Times, South China Morning Post and VJMedia
The case of Xiao Youhuai*, who stayed in Hong Kong illegally nine years past his tourist visa expiry date, were brought to light after Chan Yuen-han, legislator from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions held a press conference on 21 May, 2015.
At the press conference, Chow Siu-suen (67), who claimed to be Xiao’s grandmother, said that Xiao’s father had a limb amputated after an accident rendering him unable to work, and Xiao’s mother suffered from breast cancer, hence no one was looking after Xiao and she “smuggled” him to Hong Kong by using a fake Hukou when he was three years old. On the day of the press conference Hong Kong’s Immigration Department granted Xiao a temporary permit to stay in Hong Kong, while Confucian Tai Shing Primary School asked Xiao for an admission interview.
Screen grab: iCable Source: VJ Media
Xiao’s case drew significant attention in Hong Kong not only because Xiao had been living in Hong Kong illegally for nine years, but also because the unusually fast response from the Immigration Department and the primary school: This preternaturally slick response has raised suspicions amongst Hongkongers.
Chow said in the press conference that because Xiao was an illegal immigrant, she did not send him to school nor take him to the Immigration Department throughout the entire nine years of his stay. She also said that Xiao never left home because he feared that he would be repatriated if he was ever caught by the police.
Netizens across Hong Kong began to raise questions about Xiao: Golden Forum was one of the first groups that identified Xiao and a video of Xiao beating up other young children outside a video game arcade in his neighbourhood went viral. Many also shared photos of him hanging out in a public housing estate and testified that Xiao has been out and about every day – contradicting ‘grandmother’ Chow’s statements.
Intense debates fired up shortly after Xiao’s case became public. Many Hongkongers showed empathy to Xiao because of the statements his grandmother gave. However, with the severe impact that anchor babies from China (anchor baby means an ethnically Chinese child born in Hong Kong neither of whose parents are Hongkongers) have brought to Hong Kong – including the shortage of labour ward spaces and school places – Hongkongers worry that offering illegal immigrants permanent residency will set a precedent for China and the world (Xiao was born in China, which means he should not have been granted residency under the existing law), attracting more illegal immigrants to come to Hong Kong and claim residency and benefits, simply by “telling a soppy story”.
On 23 May, 2015, a rally was held outside Confucian Tai Shing Primary School demanding that the school not admit Xiao. Despite the fact that a Black Rainstorm warning was hoist on that day and all primary schools should have been closed, a few school girls turned up outside the school after the protesters were gone, and one of them turned on the tears (prompted by a staff-member, as captured in an amateur video) in front of cameras shouting “our school only helps us to learn and what does it matter if someone broke the law (referring to Xiao being an illegal immigrant)?”.
In multiple videos, including news channel videos, a woman’s voice asking the girl to “speak up” was captured when the girl stood in front of the school’s front door gesturing at the posters (“deport illegal immigrants”) stuck on the door before she made the statement above. The same woman said “OK!” after the girl finished the statement (evidently the woman’s voice and the girl’s statement “what does it matter if someone broke the law” were both edited out in revised versions, all news reports focused on “a student cried because of the protest” even though the protest concluded before the girl came out from the school). Netizens began to question why the school allowed its student to go in front of the cameras instead of protecting her from the crowd. They also questioned the “coincidence” of this woman directing the girl’s performance.
Xiao went to the Immigration Department on 4 June saying that he volunteered for repatriation. His grandmother Chow accompanied him to cross the Lo Wu border that afternoon.
Various Hong Kong reporters followed Xiao and Chow to Shenzhen. After they crossed the border, reporters tried to help and told them where to get taxi. Xiao shouted at reporters at the taxi rank, “Get lost! Go out to the main road and get run over by cars!” Some reporters continued to follow up the case and went to Xiao’s childhood home village in Haojiang district, Shantou Prefecture, Guangdong Province, after Xiao was repatriated.
Source: Local Press
Reporters discovered that Xiao had once lived with his paternal grandmother, and had been logged in the local registry in China, better known as Hukou.
Reporters also discovered that Xiao’s grandmother used his hukou to apply for a two-way tourist visa to visit Hong Kong when he was three, contradicting his ‘grandmother’ Chow’s statement – claiming that she borrowed someone else’s identity to get Xiao’s visa.
Reporters also found that Xiao’s father, Xiao Feihong, had a work-related injury way back, breaking four fingers and thus being unable to support the family. He followed his wife’s suggestion in giving their son into someone else’s care. Yet Xiao’s neighbours revealed that his father had renovated their house ten years ago, turning it into a three-storey high building. This suggests that the elder Xiao had money to renovate his home, but chose not to raise his son.
The reporter for Tsingdao Daily went to investigate Xiao Youhuai’s past on 7 June. In Xiao’s home village in Haojiang District, Shantou Prefecture, and discovered that Xiao had lived with his paternal grandmother who looked after her grandson. 85 years old this year, the elderly Mrs. Xiao was emotional upon seeing a picture of her grandson, handed to her by the reporter. She obviously misses her grandson. Whereas Xiao Youhuai’s cousin, now 14 years old, used to live and play at her grandmother’s family home, but having been separated for all these years, she longer remembers Xiao.
According to information held at Shantou Prefecture’s local registry, Xiao has been registered, and has his own ID number. When Xiao’s father, Xiao Feihong, had his industrial accident he was not completely disabled. Xiao Feihong told the media that because his family of four was very poor, and living with his fifth youngest brother and his family at their mother’s home, once he sustained work injuries he decided to send his son away to someone else to look after. Their neighbours pointed out that Xiao Youhuai’s father built his own three-storey house ten years ago, located only just a bit over a kilometre away from the ancestral home at 32 Maohua Lane. However, Ming Pao photographed a ruined house and claimed that it was Xiao’s residence.
The villagers also pointed out that Xiao Youhuai ‘s parents rarely return to the village, and their 18 years old eldest son, who was temporarily given to a family friend to look after, has already left home. No one has ideas of his whereabouts.
According to reports, Xiao Youhuai’s maternal grandmother, having heard that her daughter was going to give Xiao to someone else to look after six years ago, immediately went to her son-in-law’s (Xiao Feihong) home at Shantou to discuss the issue, during which it was decided to send Xiao to Hong Kong to be raised by his maternal grandmother, who arranged for Xiao’s Two-Way Visa to enter Hong Kong, via their Public Security Bureau.
As for Xiao Youhuai, who had consented to be sent back to China, he and his grandmother passed through Lo Wu Border Control Point two days ago, but neither could yet be contacted. A source said that the two grandparents and the child do not want to be disturbed, and that they are staying with a family friend until this fiasco has calmed down, before arranging for Xiao Youhuai to meet with his parents, to discuss how to look after him.
Although Chow, Xiao Youhuai’s grandmother in Hong Kong, claimed that she had completely lost touch with Xiao’s mother, it has been confirmed that Xiao’s mother had been paying regular visits to Hong Kong, and the last time she visited Hong Kong was early 2015.
On 7 June 2015, Chow contacted South China Morning Post for an interview, in which she said that Chan Yuen-han and the Immigration Department misled her.
According to the immigration department, 38 Xiao Youhuai-alike cases were given exemptions and granted permanent residency over the past three years.
*Xiao Youhuai is the Mandarin Pinyin of the illegal immigrant’s name. Some English media in Hong Kong used the Cantonese Romanisation Siu Yau-wai. However, given that Xiao was born in China and had no Hong Kong identification prior to May this year, Real Hong Kong News believes using Mandarin Pingyin, the “English spelling” Chinese in China use for their names, is the better approach.