Beijing in cool response to child entry quota plan

HONG KONG has met a stony silence on its proposal to allow 75,000 mainland children into the territory by raising the quota for daily one-way permits.

The proposal would raise the daily quota to 100 from the existing 75 and 15 of the new places will go to mainland children who, along with their mothers, will have the right of abode after 1997.

China has not responded to the proposal, which was sent to them more than two months ago.

It is known that one of the reasons for the cool response was the Hong Kong Government's insistence on its right to make sure the additional daily one-way permits would go to mainland children with right of abode after 1997 and their mothers in China.

If agreed, this will be the first time that Hong Kong is allowed to screen one-way permit holders. It has always been China's sole discretion in selecting those allowed to come.

A source said the proposal aimed at solving a potential problem for the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government, since the 75,000 children could turn up at the border in July 1997 when the Basic Law over-rode the policy on daily quotas.

Article 24 of the Basic Law states that children born outside Hong Kong but with a parent who is a permanent resident of Hong Kong is entitled to right of abode in the future SAR.

The Government wanted to solve the problem by stages, sparing the SAR Government the influx.

''Our proposal tries to solve the problem caused by the Basic Law and it is a SAR problem we offer to solve,'' the source said.

''The later we allow them to come, the bigger the influx will be.'' In addition, the Government also asked the Chinese Government to avoid splitting families in granting approval to one-way permit holders.

''The way they implement the policy has put a lot of pressure on us since people would say that we split their families,'' the source said.

''But, in fact, we don't select those who come to Hong Kong.''