* Chief executive-elect Leung takes office on July 1
* Aims to end residency for children of mainland Chinese
born in HK
* Boom in pregnant mainland Chinese women giving birth in HK
By Tan Ee Lyn
HONG KONG, April 17 Mainland Chinese mothers who
give birth in Hong Kong next year will not be able to claim
permanent residence for their newborns, the financial centre's
leader-elect said on Tuesday, signalling a move toward a more
populist stance once he takes office on July 1.
Leung Chun-ying was chosen as the new chief executive in
March by about 1,200 notables of the former British colony and
capitalist hub that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. He won
over protests of some residents who accused him of being a
Since then, however, Leung has pledged a number of reforms
including limiting access to public services for mainland
Chinese, direct elections within five years, and more land for
middle-income housing for Hong Kong residents.
"If they apply now and prepare to come to Hong Kong next
year to deliver their babies, in all likelihood, their babies
will not have permanent residency status in Hong Kong because
once I assume office, I will surely work on this," Leung told
Hong Kong's Cable Television in an interview on Tuesday.
He did not say if the territory would pass laws or use other
methods to stop the children of mainland parents from gaining
the right of abode, or permanent residency, in Hong Kong.
In February, a group of Hong Kongers placed advertisements
in a daily newspaper denouncing Chinese women for crowding out
Hong Kong's maternity wards, saying they were booked out until
In 2010, of the 88,584 newborns in Hong Kong, around a
third, or 32,653 were born to mainland women, up from 620 babies
The influx has spawned an industry of agents shuttling
Chinese mothers across the border, hiding them in illegal 'inns'
before birth, partly to circumvent China's one-child policy and
also to gain the right the live in one of the world's most
developed, wealthiest cities.
A broad provision in Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the
Basic Law, grants Hong Kong citizenship to any Chinese born
In a briefing to local reporters late on Monday, Leung said
private hospitals should suspend taking in all expectant
mainland Chinese women with no right of abode in Hong Kong.
"Everyone should know Hong Kong society already has a clear
consensus about this matter. One, delivering babies of couples
with no residency right is not the way we want to develop our
healthcare industry. Two, such offspring are not the solution to
the problem of our ageing population," Leung said.
Private hospitals that increasingly rely on maternity
services said a sudden policy change would have a major impact.
"Can we change our mode of operation? Yes we can, but not
suddenly. If we are given say three years, we can make a long-
term plan," said Alan Lau, chairman of the Hong Kong Private
But Henry Yeung, president of the Hong Kong Doctors' Union,
said blocking automatic permanent residency would ease the
crowding at maternity wards.
"This move will return maternity beds to local mothers.
Before this trend, private hospitals managed to survive."
(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Ed Lane and Daniel