HK cracks down on mainland agents for birth trip

CNTV, February 16, 2012


The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has taken its first legal action against a mainland agent who assisted a pregnant woman from the mainland, to come to Hong Kong to give birth illegally.

On Monday, a Hong Kong magistrates' court sentenced 29 year-old Xu Li, from Hubei province to 10 months in jail. She was accompanying a late term pregnant woman from the mainland to cross the border checkpoint between the mainland and Hong Kong on January 15th, where she was arrested.

Xu Li charges mainland pregnant women a few thousand Hong Kong dollars to arrange their transport, medical and housing needs. She is the first person to be prosecuted by the Hong Kong immigration department, as part of a drive to curb the number of women from the mainland coming to Hong Kong to give birth.

The magistrate said Xu's actions had put late term pregnant women in danger. They also argued that the practice overwhelms local maternity wards. The Hong Kong SAR immigration department said that expectant mothers or anyone hiring intermediaries and post-natal care workers, who are not allowed to work in Hong Kong, are also breaking the law.

Wong Yinsang, principal immigration officer, said, "We hoped that this case can pass a clear and loud message to the public that the authorities in Hong Kong is very concerned about this kind of illegal activity and we will spare no effort in combating these illegal activities."

A 2000 Court of Final Appeal decision ensures that all children of Chinese mainland parents born in Hong Kong are entitled to residency. Babies born in the city almost doubled over the past 10 years, largely due to more than 230 thousands babies born to mainland mothers.

As a result, Hong Kong's neonatal intensive care units have been pushed beyond its capacity, forcing some mothers to resort to emergency wards for childbirth.

Last month, the Hong Kong SAR government announced that, it will limit the number of non-residents giving birth in public hospitals, setting a quota of 3400 this year, as compared to 10,000 in 2011.

The Hong Kong SAR immigration department also said that based on cross-border records, it has targeted 40 intermediaries in the mainland and 20 in Hong Kong. The department will now focus on cracking down on these agents.