Petition urges new look at mainland baby rule
Tanna Chong in Beijing, Simpson Cheung and Johnny Tam
BEIJING - A majority of the Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress signed a petition asking the NPC to address the mainland mums issue.
Thirty of the 36 deputies urged an interpretation of the Basic Law about the rising tide of mainlander births in the city. The Standing Committee of the NPC, the mainland's highest state body, holds the power of interpretation.
The issue centres on whether children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents should be given permanent residency.
Some critics say the many mainland mothers giving birth in the city puts a strain on medical and educational services.
That issue dates to a landmark case in Hong Kong in 2001 that was a change from the NPC's 1999 interpretation of the Basic Law. The Court of Final Appeal had ruled that mainland baby Chong Fung-yuen, who was born in the city, had the right to Hong Kong residency. Her parents' immigration status did not affect the baby's residency.
In 2002, the city's immigration rules were changed to follow the court's judgment.
Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said reinterpreting the law was controversial and the government should decide on it carefully.
He said: 'The NPC's right to interpret the law is indisputable. But Hong Kong has an independent jurisdiction and final adjudication power, empowered by the Basic Law. We should not ignore these. So interpretation of the Basic Law should not be done with ease and haste.'