Shenzhen plans charge on second children born in Hong Kong
Choi Chi-yuk and Emily Tsang
Shenzhen plans to plug a loophole in its family planning regulations and charge those who give birth to a second child in Hong Kong or overseas more than 200,000 yuan (HK$246,000), state media reported yesterday.
Xinhua said the standing committee of the city's people's congress had decided recently that social maintenance fees - more commonly known as extra-child penalties - would be imposed on residents of the city who violated the mainland's family planning policy.
Many Shenzhen residents had been choosing to deliver their second child in Hong Kong or Macau, hoping to evade the penalty, the report said.
The original regulations did not specify if second children born overseas were subject to penalties, and many people had tried to take advantage of the grey area.
The report said the new policy, which will come into effect on January 1, would apply to couples where one or both partners was resident in Shenzhen.
They would be required to pay the penalty when registering their child's permanent residency in Shenzhen or if the child had lived in Shenzhen for more than 18 months in the past two years.
It said Shenzhen's social maintenance fee for those giving birth to an extra child this year was nearly 220,000 yuan.
Hundreds of microbloggers have attacked the change to the regulation. Some lashed out at the "lousy government for doing nothing but imposing fines on ordinary people".
Others said the family planning policy was a violation of human rights that should be abolished immediately.
Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the new measure would not deter mainland mothers who chose to come to Hong Kong to deliver their babies to secure right of abode for the child.
"It may stop some parents from coming to Hong Kong to give birth to their second baby as the cost is higher, but for those who are really rich on the mainland, they can still come," Ma said. "And I am sure many mainland parents will be able to find some ways to escape from the new measures."
He said the real solution to the influx of expectant mainlanders in Hong Kong would be to solve the right-of-abode issue.