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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 14:08 GMT
HK's limits on pregnant Chinese
New rules have come into effect in Hong Kong aimed at restricting the number of pregnant women from mainland China who come to Hong Kong to give birth.

Many in Hong Kong have welcomed the news, hoping that it will ease the pressure on health care services. Here, Hong Kong residents give their views on the effects the new rules will have.

WILSON CHONG, FINANCIAL WORKER

Wilson Chong
Wilson Chong: It's a quick fix that won't solve the problem
I first heard about this problem a year ago when I saw a TV report from a maternity ward.

It showed a woman not being able to check into hospital to give birth, as there weren't enough spaces.

So she was put on a waiting list, although the baby had already started to arrive. That was because apparently the ward was full of women from mainland China.

The high number of women giving birth has put a strain on the health care system and the quality of the service has dropped. You hear about women not being checked regularly, which means that when a problem develops it won't be caught at an early stage.

So I understand why people in Hong Kong are not happy with the situation. I have friends, a young couple, who were so put off by the mess at maternity wards and the lack of security that there will be a bed available, that they've decided not to have a baby for the time being.

The problem is not simple. Lots of Hong Kong men marry women from mainland China and such couples will be badly affected by the new measures. If a Hong Kong man marries a British woman, for example, she will get a residency permit.

But women from mainland China do not get such permits. So although the father is a Hong Kong resident, if the mother is from mainland China, restrictions would apply.

I think what the government is doing is a quick fix. It doesn't solve the problem in the long term. If there is a demand for such services from mainland China, let them come. But first build more hospitals, train more doctors. And if women from mainland China pay their fees, I don't think anyone here would object.

What these restrictions will achieve is that they will divert attention from the need to invest more in health care at a time when the government wants to focus on the economy. It will also polarise society.

BRITISH EXPAT, ANONYMOUS

I am a UK citizen and a Hong Kong resident. I own a company here manufacturing high-tech products.

My wife is from China and she does not qualify for a dependent's visa, so she cannot officially reside with me in Hong Kong. She is only entitled to 90 day "visiting relative or family" visas. So every 90 days she has to go back to Sichuan where her family is.

Our daughter was born here in Hong Kong on Christmas Eve. She is now a Hong Kong citizen, while her mother is currently "visiting" us.

Our next child might not be allowed to be born here, if the quota is full for mainland Chinese mothers wishing to give birth in Hong Kong.

It is not nice to live as a family in Hong Kong under such circumstances. Clearly, if the entitlement to visit were ever withdrawn, and there's no guarantee that that won't happen tomorrow, we would have to pack our bags and leave Hong Kong altogether.

Is it only a matter of time before this new law promotes an exodus of business expatriates like me

I don't want to get troubles from the immigration office, that's why I prefer not to reveal my identity.

If I leave, my small company would also cease to exist in Hong Kong, as, if I am not a resident, I cannot be a director.

This new law just makes it tougher and puts unwarranted strain on families like mine. After all we are contributing to the local society and economy. We are not taking away from it.

I also feel that the way the story has been presented here is wrong. Lots of the women who come to Hong Kong to give birth are quite well-off and they provide good business for the private hospitals.

When my wife was in hospital to give birth, there were organised tours showing rich couples from mainland China the facilities.

I think this is a knee-jerk legislation, that will only create discrimination and anxiety.

Is it only a matter of time before this new law promotes an small exodus of business expatriates like me.

GWYNETH LUI, MOTHER OF THREE

People here are up in arms about this. A recent demonstration by mothers who had bad experiences while in hospital highlighted the scale of the problem.

The birth rate in Hong Kong has shot up recently. The economy is doing well, Sars is over and people feel more comfortable about having children. Everywhere you look there is a pregnant woman. Quite different from what it was a few years ago.

At a time when a growing number of local women need quality health care services, hospitals are overwhelmed with a high number of pregnant women from mainland China.

You hear stories about local women being put on waiting lists when there is clear need for urgency. If I was about to have a child now, I would be really worried about availability of beds in maternity wards.

The other problem is that women from mainland China often don't pay the hospital fees, putting a strain on Hong Kong taxpayers.

I think this is a very good reason for new rules and there's no surprise that the majority of people here welcome them.




SEE ALSO
HK's draw for pregnant Chinese
31 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China vow on sex-based abortion
02 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
China acts to protect baby girls
15 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
China fears bachelor future
05 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific
China steps up 'one child' policy
25 Sep 00 |  Asia-Pacific



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