Title: “Double Not - Original Sin?!” - Mainland Chinese parents accused of exploiting resources in Hong Kong
Transcript with time code
“I am not allowed to give birth a second time after having given birth to the first baby.”
[A certain netizen]
“Then don’t give birth again if you cannot afford it!”
“I don’t know if I am lucky or actually unlucky.”
“…eating into our medical resources and our welfare provisions...
[A certain netizen]
“We toil to death and tough it to make ends meet just to maintain you for no reason?”
[A certain netizen]
“Not worthy of our compassion, I think.”
“On both sides we are driven to the wall…”
[A certain netizen]
“Then who’s there to feel compassion for expectant local women in Hong Kong?”
“For us to come to Hong Kong, we also live under a lot of pressure.”
The Chinese word for “Not” can mean “Wrong”, “Crime” or “Fault”. There is such a saying using the word “Not” in Chinese that goes “cardinal questions of right and wrong”.
The word for “Not” in Chinese can also mean “non-”. There is this group of children born in Hong Kong to whom the tag of “Double Not” has been burdening them since birth. What is “wrong” with them is that both their fathers and mothers are not Hong Kong residents who came from the Mainland. And for this reason, they are the” doubly at faults”.
These “Double Nots” are being fiercely attacked by many people in Hong Kong.
[Protesters shouting out slogans]
“Hong Kong People are Angry
Hong Kong is Dying
Double Nots Snatch Hospital Beds
How barbarous! It’s called looting”
[Song with lyrics rewritten titled “How many double nots how many babies” found on web]
“We have enough of them crashing through customs, jumping queues,
And swooping up Louis Vuitton bags in bulk buy fashion.
Everyday, Mainlanders come in to snatch HK birth certificates for their babies
I often hear you complain and sigh!
How many Double Nots are there in fact and how many babies of theirs are there really?
Freezing processing and limiting crossing of borders are both acceptable
But when it comes to asking the National People’s Congress to interpret our laws?
Definitely, this cannot be attempted again.
Netizens rewrote lyrics of songs to blame children borne of Mainland parents who are both non residents of Hong Kong. Some Hong Kong parents set up a group on Facebook titled “Say no to Mainland pregnant women who come to Hong Kong to give birth. 100,000 people to push the Like button to let the government know”. So far, more than 110,000 people have “Liked” this. This group of people has since last year rallied for participation in three so called “The Besige” protest parades against the “Double Nots”. Every time there were almost a thousand peoplewho took part, including pregnant women and parents parading with their babies in strollers.
[Protesters shouting out slogans]
“Hong Kong has degraded into a delivery room
Say no to pregnant women from Mainland China to give birth in Hong Kong
We demand for the return of rights to local expectant mothers
Hong Kong has degraded into a delivery room
Local women who are pregnant are forced to sleep in hospital corridors”
“We want to let the government know how much the people of Hong Kong are detested and disgusted with the Double Nots. We feel that they are acting unscrupulously in order to come to Hong Kong to give birth. We are sick of this. We feel that they are here to snatch away the things that should belong to local Hong Kong citizens. And so we have to say no to them and fight them.”
Some Legislative Council members are also concerned over this issue of the “Double Nots” taking away public resources from Hong Kong and accused the government of not trying hard enough to handle the problem.
[Legislative Councillor Starry Lee Wai-King]
“In the past decade, more than 100,000 pregnant women from the Mainland have come to Hong Kong to give birth, while local expectant mothers have to fight for 3 places in Hong Kong: the first place is a bed in the hospital near the due date of a pregnancy; the second place is a spot in line for our new-born babies to receive immunization; and the third is a place in school afterwards as the baby grows and becomes ready for school.”
[Legislative Councillor Chan Hak-Kan]
“Should this group of babies from the Mainland really all show up and gatecrash on Hong Kong, then they would sure stretch our public provisions in education, medical services, welfare, housing and employment opportunities.”
[Legislative Councillor Alan Leong Kah-Kit]
“We can understand why Hong Kong citizens take to the streets so often, and some even with babies in stroller. This is because they have become the innocent sacrifice due to a failure to put in place corresponding arrangements to match government policies.”
Why under all these attacks and criticisms, these non-local expectant mothers still come to Hong Kong to give birth? Legislative Councillor To Kun-Sun could have pointed out the very reason at the core.
[Legislative Councillor James To Kun-Sun]
“One reason is to run away from the policy of penalty for those who give birth to more than one child, and the other reason is to get the right of abode in Hong Kong.”
“My name is Ki and I came from Guangdong Province. I am a case of what people called “Double Not”. I have a daughter going to K3 class in a kindergarten in Hong Kong, and I still have a son in the Mainland. My daughter is five and a half years old. In Mainland China, the policies ban us from giving birth to a second child after we have the first one. If you do, you will be fined Renminbi Y60,000 to 70,000.
“In the village, the authorities are very eager to get at you for payment of the fine. They would show up at your doorstep to demand payment and you have to pay by the specified deadline set by them. They are very intent on getting the fine paid. If you only pay off part of the fine, application for identity documents will not be permitted until you have paid up the whole amount of the fine. My family, however, earns a living by farming. And so even if you only ask me to pay a few hundred or a thousand Yen for the first installment of fine, I still do not have the money.”
Meanwhile, Ching from Guangdong Province shares a similar story like that of Ki’s. She also tried to run away from the extra birth fine imposed on her in the Mainland so she came to Hong Kong five years ago to give birth to her second baby.
“In fact, we do practice contraception in our community. That means you can only have one baby and cannot have a second one. The local family planning office will request you to place an intrauterine device into your body for contraception. I don’t know if I have been lucky or unlucky in that the device came off and I became pregnant for the second time by accident. This child of mine was born here in Hong Kong and she’s now five years old.
“At first I did not plan to come to Hong Kong to give birth. It was not until I was 6 or 7 months into the pregnancy that I thought of coming to Hong Kong to give birth because it was almost by the time the baby was due that I began to feel scared
“I asked someone else to help me inquire at the family planning office about the fine for a second birth and thought if it were Y20,000 to Y30,000, I could still be able to accept it. I could pay the fine because I worked when I was young and have saved up some money. The result of the inquiry, however, was that it would be at Y70,000 to Y80,000, and by then I was scared.”
We are talking about a fine of Y70,000, Y80,000 to even Y100,000 which is already a few years of salary in total for an ordinary worker.
This so called “extra birth penalty” is a fine imposed on offenders against unplanned pregnancies-- for having given birth to more than one child. In the 1980’s, it was initially called the “extra birth penalty” but in 1994, it was renamed “unplanned birth fine”. By year 2000, the fine was uniformly called “social protection fee” in a document jointly issued by the central government and the State Council. In 2001, “social protection fee” was clearly stipulated and spelt out in the population and planned pregnancy laws.
Despite the unity in its name, the fine in its actual collection is not the same across the Mainland. In some places, for instance, Haiding area in Beijing, the fine is charged at 9 times of the disposable average per capital income of the citizens in the city and counties of Beijing --at more than Y26,000, which totals Y240,000. And that multiple factor varies from place to place. Some media entities in the Mainland have compared available figures. It was reported that the fine to be charged could be in the range of Y7,000 to Y1 million.
Non-local expectant mother Ki from Guangdong Province was very scared when she heard that giving birth to a second child would cost her Y60,000 to Y 100,000 and so she asked around to see if there were other options.
“My eldest sister-in-law lives in Hong Kong. During one of the times she came back to Guangdong to visit us, she said the fine in the village was heavy but if you gave birth in Hong Kong, it would cost Y20,000 to Y 30,000 only. For one reason, the education provisions are good in Hong Kong whereas the most you could do in the village is to finish studying by the time you are in lower secondary school. Our village is poor.”
As for the other non-local mother Ching, the situation is more or less the same.
“One of my husband’s cousins visited us over Chinese New Year holidays she having moved to Hong Kong for a while then. According to her, it only would cost Y20,000 to give birth in a Hong Kong public hospital. Our consideration at that time was a choice between Y20,000 and Y70,000 and so we came and gave birth here.
“Back then, my belly was really big already and when I went to process travel documents to get through customs with, the (Mainland) authorities still issued the permit to me. It was also smooth sailing for me to go through Hong Kong customs though it was already very near to the due date when I came.”
Before year 2000, it was not that common for Mainland parents to come over to Hong Kong to give birth to their babies in order to avoid paying fines. The Zhuang Feng Yuan case in 2001 wherein the court has ruled that even children of Mainland parents established to be non-locals would still be entitled to permanent residency status so far as they are born in Hong Kong, i.e., the so called “double nots” as they are referred to today. Yet according to Immigration Department statistics, the number of these “Double Not” babies was not big, only over 500 or so.
Since the launching of the” Individual Visit Scheme” in 2003, however, people from the Mainland can come to Hong Kong much easier. The birth number of “Double Not” babies began rising sharply. It reached 16,000 in 2006 and 32,000 in 2010. Compared to the same period ten years ago, the number has risen 52 times and it accounted for 36% of the total births in Hong Kong. So many people come to Hong Kong to give birth to their babies, no wonder there are the accusations against Mainlanders over excessive demands for use of the delivery room, fighting for baby milk power and snatching resources from the locals.
[Legislative Councillor Wong Kwok-Kin]
“Quite a lot of Hong Kong citizens are of the opinion that eventually, locals in Hong Kong will have to foot the bill and pay for the social welfare and education resources needed for the children of the “Double Not” Mainlanders coming into Hong Kong to give birth. Such sentiments have spread and grown into anti-Mainlander discontent, so much so that such labels as ‘locust’ arise.”
After giving birth to her second baby, Ching went back to live in the Mainland, bringing her child with her. Since her baby was born in Hong Kong and does not have a registered residency card in the Mainland, she can only go to a private school for an education.
“Because we needed to pay a fine when we returned to China to study, the amount was more than Y90,000. Besides, the school fee we had to pay for our child would be higher than normal and we also needed to pay a capital levy. The school fee is more than a thousand and the capital levy is a few tens of a thousand for each stage and more than a thousand per term. The capital levy is the school development fee and has to be paid in one go. “
Three years ago, Ki came to Hong Kong with her younger daughter and enrolled her into a kindergarten. As a non-local “Double Not” parent, Ki cannot work and is not qualified to apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, a welfare provision available to Hong Kong’s poor. Yet Ki has to stay in Hong Kong to take care of her daughter and thus she is leading a tough life.
“I can only take one step at a time so when I am free I go to pick up some discarded cardboard boxes to sell and search for discarded vegetables for dinner. My daughter goes to the kindergarten for half a day. Although there are government school vouchers to use in payment of tuition, I still have to pay over a thousand a month for books and sundry expenses, as well as the snack fees. To pay for these, I borrow from my relatives in small sums of a few hundreds from each of them.” (Sobbing)
In addition to feeling the hurt from deprivations in the material world, Ki is also worried about psychological harm done to her daughter.
“One sentence can sum up the whole situation: she is still not a permanent resident because her parents are from the Mainland.”
“I cannot say I am 100% sure that my child will contribute to the common good of Hong Kong. Yet can people be humane and mindful of the individual? Even for us to live in the Mainland, she is not recognized for being a local Mainland resident. I feel intense pain at heart hearing people calling these children such a nickname.”
“The nickname is used to describe what they are doing. Locusts invade people’s land and take away all the resources from people.”
In Hong Kong’s popular chatroom Golden.com, netizen Ray is vehement with his criticism.
“For instance, the farmers are those who suffer terribly when there is a locust invasion. Just like in the case of Hong Kong, the local people have been working so hard to build up so many of the things we see today. But why do such people came suddenly as a group, and snatch way all the things from us? For those who have money, I hope they will make good use of their current resources and send their children overseas for schooling and just don’t bring them to Hong Kong. For those without money, it’d be the best if they don’t give birth to any children at all.”
Listeners who called in to phone-in radio programmes are also vocal and without mercy.
[Clips from radio phone-in programmes]
“See what the double nots have done to us? Those in the queues waiting for medical services are now simply stuck. It’s a total stalemate, an impasse for real!”
“Some children have some physical defects, or some are handicapped in growth, and the resources needed for these children will be huge.”
“They just don’t know how this could seriously harm the economy of Hong Kong. When these babies stay in Hong Kong in the future, they will make it more difficult for the local babies to find a place to live, and Hong Kong tax players will have to work to support them for no reason at all!”
“It’s impossible for us to put up with them anymore!”
“I’d try to avoid telling her what the whole issue of “Double Nots” is all about, and will only explain to her that “Double Not” refers to both parents being Mainlanders and that she’s born here in Hong Kong. Just try to be simple and brief. I am worried about my child being stressed and feeling inferior. This term not only picks on us as the parents, but also aims to hurt the growth of our children… (Crying) It’s immensely hurting…”
“For now they are still young and ignorant. So it is okay. Yet by the time she goes to primary 3, she should be able to sense something, or maybe worried a bit. (Crying)
“It seems like on both sides we are forced up the walls and have no place to go to. (Sobbing) For us to come to Hong Kong there is a lot of pressure already, and we can become so moody so easily. On hearing what the radio callers have to say, I feel very unhappy… (Sobbing) Say, our village is such a poor place, we are contented already for our kids to have the chance to go to school and to have a simple meal.”
“Actually, this group of children has become marginalized. What I mean is that they would not be recognized as local residents by the Mainland authorities if they were born there; while in Hong Kong here… I don’t know how to describe it…this kind of …Our hearts ache when we hear local people calling our children (locust). I only hope that my children can go to school and have a decent meal.”
Ching is sharing a similar story with that of Ki’s. She also came to Hong Kong and stayed here with her daughter. Similarly, she feels equally stressful.
“I dare not tell others about my background. I would only greet people and am not willing to chat with others. Yeah, I just feel uncomfortable. You know because when you sometimes do chat with others, they would show( their dislike against the Double Nots) since they were not aware of my identity….At heart, we find such sayings hard to take—I mean our coming here to give birth is because we come to vie for welfare benefits. This is really hurting. That’s why in where I rent the place to live, I seldom speak. I would just say hello and no more.”
Local pregnant women are forced to sleep in hospital corridors”
Online chatroom participant Ray
“They are not worthy of our compassion. If so, then who’s there to feel compassion for the local expectant mothers?”
[Song with the lyrics rewritten titled “The World of Locust” posted on web]
“Gate crashing at Hong Kong border, you by nature enjoy seizing other’s territory
You parasitic dwellers stay on until finally your identity is confirmed
Pregnant locusts look like Aliens, yet you keep coming in non-stop
Is there nobody who could stop you from snatching our Hong Kong resident identity?!”
“If you are only allowed to give birth to one child in the Mainland, then you might as well just have one child. You said because the education here is better. I think you should not have children at all if you cannot afford it. Very simply put, you just don’t want to accept the reality. You want to have a son but you have given birth to a daughter. Then what? You kept on getting pregnant until you finally got a son? This line of thought is at fault. People will not be persuaded by you that way.”
[Song with lyrics rewritten titled “The World of Locusts” posted on web]
“Locust eggs hatching in our hospitals,
Hospital beds are occupied and invaders sneak away without settling the bills.
Will you be angry while feeling deeply saddened?
In fact the future of our next two generations is already being eroded into.
These few words “one step at a time” could well sum up what Ching and Ki have gone through in the past. Having a second pregnancy and without the money to pay for the fines, they had no choice but to take a stride out into Hong Kong to give birth here. After their children were born, there would be fines again if the children were to stay in the Mainland to study, thus they went to schools in Hong Kong.
The mothers cannot work in Hong Kong; they are not entitled to social welfare provisions; they are suffering from all sorts of attacks and criticisms by locals. In the case of Ching and Ki, it could be said that they have been forced to take on a series of moves under circumstantial factors, by which they ended up here, in an impasse where the road ahead is in a blur.
[Online chatroom participant Ray]
“Since Mainland China adopts the one child policy, so I would rather come to Hong Kong. This is what you are practically saying. I think you are robbing others. Nobody in Hong Kong would accept such reasoning.”
It is a common view that the”Double Nots” are here in Hong Kong to rob the society of its resources. There are some” Double Nots”, however, who do not agree to such an argument.
“We did not gatecrash on the emergency ward. They are wrong to say that.”
Not all “Double Nots” are without money. For instance, we have Amy here who runs a school in Shenzhen. Both Amy and her husband have residency status in Shenzhen. She gave birth to her first child in Shenzhen. To avoid the fine of Y240,000 for an extra birth, she decided to come over to Hong Kong to deliver her second child in a private hospital here.
Recently, she has been pregnant for a third time, and is estimated to be due sometime in June. Amy has decided to use $90,000 to come again to give birth in a Hong Kong private hospital. She thought that since giving birth in the Mainland would impose a fine on them, it would be better for them to just come over to give birth here.
“The birth of my second child only costs us a price of $56,000, all inclusive. It should not be more than $70,000 if the fees for other check- ups are included. To give birth in the Mainland, however, the fine is already Y200,000. I find it not an attractive deal; besides, having a residency status in Hong Kong is better.”
Amy also said that she did not plan to send her child over to Hong Kong for schooling so as not to take up local people’s resources.
“No such plans. Since my eldest child was not born in Hong Kong, we don’t want to live in two places and be separated. I want to be fairer. I also think that it would be too tough for a child to commute to and fro between two places.
“[Q:Simply to avoid having to pay the fine?] Firstly, it was because of the need to avoid the fine for a second birth. Secondly, it was because we want to have the Hong Kong residency status.
[Q: What ‘s the good of this residency status?] It is because things are not run as democratically in Shenzhen. People in the Mainland think Hong Kong is more democratic. The ownership of a Hong Kong residency status may help in many other matters.”
“We are thinking of emigrating to Singapore in the second half of next year. It is because we do not consider Hong Kong as the place for our children to receive an education. Education in Singapore is more suitable for our children in terms of the standards and levels, closer to those we have in Shenzhen.”
Amy thinks that Hong Kong people should not discriminate against the “Double Nots”.
“People should not say things like that since offering obstetric service to pregnant women from the Mainland is a well accepted practice here. The Hong Kong government charges these families a fee for the delivery, and so the government should provide them with the service.”
Whether it is Ki, Ching or Amy, these three “Double Not” mothers came from different social strata, and their post delivery plans for their children are not the same. Nonetheless, the reason at the core of all three cases is the intention to avoid paying the fine for extra births in the Mainland. How do we judge what’s right and what’s wrong in the vortex of all these? And what is the true “wrong” really?
[Legislative Councillor Margaret Ng]
“In the past, no matter which generation of immigrants you were, you would be deemed a member of Hong Kong after you had arrived and taken root here. Whether people originally came from the Mainland, Taiwan or other overseas countries, they were all the same, one of us.”
This group of babies whose parents are non-locals from the Mainland has been born here in Hong Kong, and some of them are growing up in Hong Kong. Why, however, does the Hong Kong society choose not to accept them? This identity of being the “Double Nots” has already evolved to become an original sin. A crime they have to shoulder from birth!
Reporter: Jonathan Yip Koon Lam, Tam Wing Fai, Chan Yin Ping, Chan Sum Yee, Wong Pui Ting, Yuen Tze Pui