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HK leader-elect vows to address controversy of pregnant Chinese

2012/04/17 21:38:14

Hong Kong, April 17 (CNA) Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun-ying pledged Tuesday to take measures once he assumes office July 1 to address the controversial influx of pregnant women coming from China to give birth.

In an interview with the official Radio Television Hong Kong, Leung said the phenomenon of more and more Chinese parents delivering their babies in Hong Kong in order to gain them permanent residency of the former British colony causes a potential impact on society.

He will do something about it once he takes office. However, he did not elaborate on how he plans to address the issue.

Leung was elected in March as chief executive of the special administrative region of China.

In recent years, the number of pregnant Chinese women traveling to Hong Kong to give birth has increased. Statistics circulated on the Internet indicate that 32,653 babies were born to mainland Chinese parents in Hong Kong in 2010, nearly 37 percent of the 88,584 newborns born there that same year.

In 2001, there were only 620 children born to non-residents of Hong Kong, according to the tallies.

Under Hong Kong laws, Chinese children born there automatically have the right to become permanent residents. This entitles them to 12 years of free education and other benefits that are not available to mainlanders, including visa-free access to many other countries. Some Chinese parents can also evade China's one-child policy.

The influx of pregnant mainland women, however, has sparked anger among locals, who claim that the mainlanders are elbowing residents out of maternity wards.

In response to the rising number of complaints, Leung suggested Monday that private hospitals should stop accepting pregnant women from China.

He also said that once he takes office, there will be no guarantee that newborns to mainland Chinese parents will be able to claim Hong Kong permanent residency.

Hong Kong society already has a clear consensus about the matter, he said, that is, "delivering babies of couples with no residency rights is not the way we want to develop our health care industry."

(By Stanley Cheung and Elizabeth Hsu)