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Dublin: 3°C Monday 6 December 2021

'Birth tourism' heightens tensions between China and Hong Kong

Half of the babies born in Hong Kong last year have parents from the mainland.

Image: HKGolden.com

ANTI-CHINA SENTIMENT has risen in Hong Kong over the past few months as the phenomenon of ‘birth tourism’ becomes more apparent and the semi-autonomous state asserts its own identity.

In Hong Kong last year, nearly 33,500 children were born to parents who live on the mainland of China. Many come to give birth to escape China’s one-child policy or to benefit from superior health services.

Locals have started to complain about the influx of so-called birth tourists to the territory. Those babies born in Hong Kong have the right to live and work there.

The issue came to a head last week when an advertisement appeared in a local newspaper depicting a giant locust overlooking Hong Kong’s skyline.

According to BBC News, a group of locals raised money to fund the advert in the Apple Daily. It called for the government to change the rules so the children (who have been given the derogatory name of “double negatives” because they are born to two mainland parents) don’t get automatic rights.

Authorities in the south Chinese province of Guangdong have warned parents that travelling to Hong Kong will not protect them from fines or punishment for breaking the one-child law. China’s strict family planning rules limit urban couples to one child and rural couples to two.

The anti-China sentiment has reared its head in other ways as well. A recent viral video clip shows local commuters getting angry at a Chinese tourist for spilling noodles onto the floor of a subway train.

They tells her, “Hey! This is Hong Kong!”, highlighting the strained tensions between the islanders and mainlanders.

YouTube Credit: kbdrose1

Other issues that Hong Kongers take issue with include Chinese tourist shoppers who buy everything from luxury apartments to baby formula.

It has been 15 years since the former British colony was handed back to China. Beijing now fear that if Hong Kong’s vibrant culture continues to grow and develop, residents may seek a faster pace of democratisation and reform.

-Additional reporting by AP

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