A mainland woman who entered into a marriage of convenience with a local man to give birth in the city has been jailed for a year.
Guangdong woman Zhang Qiulan, 39, yesterday became the first mainland mother jailed for giving birth in Hong Kong through a sham marriage after the "zero-birth quota" policy came into effect in January. The policy barred mainland women without Hong Kong husbands from giving birth in the city. The fake marriage with local Cheung Chun-hung, 36, was arranged by Zhang's former father-in-law Lam Yiu-chee, 71. Both Cheung and Lam were also each sentenced to one year in jail.
The trio were convicted of conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to obtain services by deception, and making a false statement in Sha Tin Court yesterday.
Assistant principal immigration officer Choi Yue-ning said officers were alerted after analysing intelligence and Zhang's hospital bookings.
"We are very concerned that non-local mothers are using illegal means to enter Hong Kong [to give birth]," he said.
It was understood that officers found the marriage suspicious because it happened only after Zhang got pregnant. Further, she got pregnant when she was on the mainland while Cheung was in Hong Kong.
Zhang, who became pregnant in April last year, divorced her mainland husband in June and married Cheung in July - with her ex-father-in-law as middleman. Cheung received HK$30,000 for the sham marriage. A month later, Zhang made a booking with Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital for obstetric services.
She successfully gave birth to a baby in Hong Kong on January 2, meaning that her child was granted right of abode in the city.
But it was not until January 15, when Lam and Cheung applied for a birth certificate for the baby, that the three were arrested. Zhang was arrested at home on the same day.
Choi denied that the enforcement action was unsuccessful in preventing the baby from being born in Hong Kong. He said the authorities spared no effort in stopping similar cases from happening here.
"Before we started our active investigation, she had [already] successfully entered Hong Kong by entry permit. We tried to approach her, but she had given birth on January 2," he said.