A think tank led by former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang has put forward a proposal to allow non-permanent residents to give birth in Hong Kong, which the government has rejected.

In a report released on Sunday, Hong Kong Vision recommended that the government “proactively study” the policy to resolve the issue of Hong Kong’s declining fertility rate and aging population. It suggested an annual delivery quota of of 15,000 to 25,000 in private hospitals, and to review the number at least once every three years.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in 2012 rolled out a “zero-quota” policy after complaints over the influx of mainland pregnant women booking hospital rooms or being rushed to emergency rooms to give birth.

Jasper Tsang
Jasper Tsang (middle). Photo: Hong Kong Vision.

A government spokesman then said in a statement that there was no intention to relax or abolish the “zero-quota” policy.

“The spokesman also pointed out that Hong Kong’s gynecological, obstetric, pediatric and other medical services, as well as its schools, cannot cope with tens of thousands of extra babies being born every year,” the statement read.

“The shortage of manpower in Hong Kong and the ageing population cannot be resolved by [the babies of non-permanent resident parents].”

Protest against mainland women giving birth
Protest against mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong. File

Health secretary Ko Wing-man also said that there was no intention to change the policy, but the government will closely monitor the change in local fertility rate and the demand for gynecological, obstetric, and pediatric services.

“I also noticed that local fertility rate has seen a rising trend in the recent year or two, but we will closely monitor whether it is a continuous trend and what the rate will be,” he said.

Tsang’s think tank also suggested measures to encourage childbirth, such as setting up a child growth matching saving fund, an allowance for daily expenses, tax rebates and optimising paid parenting leave.

Another suggestion was setting up measures to encourage “non-local post-graduate students” to stay and work in Hong Kong.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.