updated 24 Dec 2010, 21:58
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Sat, Jan 16, 2010
China Daily/Asia News Network
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More wealthy women give birth in Hong Kong
by Wang Wen

(above: An advertisement for a consulting company states it can help city women deliver their babies in Hong Kong. The number of pregnant women who plan to have their children born in Hong Kong is growing, local health officials say.)

The flood of Beijing women traveling to Hong Kong to give birth resumed on Jan 1 when hospitals in the special administrative region (SAR) began accepting mainland moms again.

Many of the women who travel there do so to have a second child, something that is forbidden for most women on the mainland, said an officer, surnamed Zhao, from one of the agencies that connects Beijing women with hospitals in the SAR.

An official, surnamed Xi, with the Beijing municipal commission of population and family planning, confirmed that the road-trip is popular with women wanting a second child.

"If the child does not need to get a Beijing ID, even though they will be taken to Beijing to grow up, we cannot control them at all because they are not Beijingers," said Xi.

According to Beijing government policy, parents who have a second child ordinarily must pay a penalty of up to 240,000 yuan (S$48,744).

But babies born in Hong Kong become 'permanent residents' of the special administrative region and do not have to pay the penalty.

The Beibeian consulting agency is one of the three biggest in Beijing that help women give birth in Hong Kong.

A manager from the agency, surnamed Dong, said it has helped 15 women since Jan 1, 25 percent more than the same period last year.

"Our office has been busy with women coming for consultations and to sign contracts," Dong said.

Official Hong Kong government statistics say around half of all births in Hong Kong are to mainland mothers.

Dong estimated that about 10,000 Beijing babies were born in Hong Kong last year.

The Hong Kong government refused to accept pregnant women from the mainland between Oct 8 and Jan 1 because there was so much demand that Hong Kong women were having difficulty finding beds.

"We are having to book a bed six months ahead of the arrival of the baby," Dong said.

The strong demand led some Hong Kong hospitals to raise prices from HK$60,000 to HK$100,000.

Agencies charge between 80,000 and 150,000 yuan and pass on the fees to the hospitals.

The service is mainly aimed at wealthy people.

"The price was reasonable," said a mother, surnamed Sun, who earns more than 500,000 yuan a year and who gave birth to a girl in July 2009.

She said babies born in Hong Kong enjoy all the rights of SAR residents, such as free medicine and a free visa to 135 countries.

Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, president of the Hong Kong hospital authority, said women from the mainland can save money by avoiding agencies.

"It is easy to give birth in HK and not dependant on agencies," Hu told the Southern Metropolis Daily on Jan 5.

"It costs around 40,000 HK dollars, including the operation and three-day delivery in hospital if everything goes well," Hu told the newspaper.


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