Hong Kong Maternity Tourism

I just learned recently that in mainland China there’s a whole business centered on getting pregnant women into Hong Kong to give birth so that the babies get extra Hong Kong citizenship privileges. This trend has been dubbed “maternity tourism.” Surreal.

Of course, there’s also a backlash. But anyway, the reasons to do it:

> Giving birth in Hong Kong not only guarantees them world-class health care but in many cases secures citizenship in the city of 7 million for children who would otherwise be entitled only to a Chinese passport.

> Hong Kong citizenship entitles the children to free education, health care and other benefits throughout their life, the equivalent of a lottery win for children from poor families in southern China.

I understand that Hong Kong citizenship means a much easier time getting visas to other parts of the world. What wouldn’t a parent do for her baby’s future, huh?

Of course, overcrowded hospitals is resulting on more unhappy deliveries in Hong Kong.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. i have spent time over there and I know this has been happening for awhile.

    there are many benefits to being in Hong Kong rather than China.

  2. […] interesting links on two totally unrelated topics: Hong Kong maternity tourism and the rise of netbooks. I just learned recently that in mainland China there’s a whole business […]

  3. Last year when I lived in Shenzhen, we elected to use Hong Kong doctors and hospitals for all my ante-natalcare and delivery.
    Hong Kong may have one of the lowest birthrates in the world, but greater than 40% of babies born in Hong Kong hospitals are born to mainland mothers (lSCMP reported last year that for the first half of 2008, 14,464 of the 35,203 babies born were to mainland mothers). Possibly, some of those mainland mothers include people like me, an American expat, but most of them are mainland Chinese. At the hospital where I delivered, the New Territories branch of a large, private Christian hospital, I was the only white foreigner there at that time. Nearly all of the other mothers were mainland Chinese (they more often spoke Mandarin and I saw many of their passports used as their ID in the nursery when they would go see their babies). The nurses were tri-lingual: Cantonese, English, and Mandarin.
    In the garden where we lived in Shenzhen, an upper middle-class Chinese neighborhood, it wasn’t uncommon to see two-child families. For many of these families, the first baby was born in Mainland China, and the second was most often born in Hong Kong. On mornings when I would go to Hong Kong, I would see dozens of school children on the Chinese side of the border, waiting for someone from their Hong Kong school to escort them across the border. I couldn’t imagine doing that everyday, but these kids did, some as young as kindergarteners.

    • Hi…. We just had our baby in Tuen Mun hospital and we need to go back to Shenzhen. But the hospital is saying that they need 7 days to send the information to the Birth Records office and so now we can’t even make an appoitment to get our baby’s birth certificate.

      Please help!!!! We need to find a way to get her Birth Cert, so we can get the HK Id/Passport to travel back to SZ in 2 days…..


  4. Matthew Stinson Says: October 15, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Kind of like the US “anchor baby” phenomenon.

  5. Wow, that’s crazy! My grandfather used to be a delivery doctor in HK, wonder what he thinks 🙂

  6. Hong Kong women have become very relunctant to have children, the Total Fertility Rate is down to something like 1,1 children per woman. The city would be dying out fast if it wasn’t for the Mainland mothers, many of which of course marry into Hong Kong and are much more fertile than their local counterparts.

    As usual, Hong Kong people bitch and moan about the Mainland invasion, but they’d have a pretty dire demographic problem without it.

  7. Apparently Taiwanese mothers do this with the US sometimes. If they have a green card, they try to fly to the US in time for delivery = American citizenship for the baby.
    I see this is problematic for HK, but if I were those mainland mothers, I’d probably try to give my child a HK future as well.

  8. Just a few days ago, the South China Morning Post cited a few interesting numbers regarding this. OF the 78,822 births in Hong Kong last year, 43 percent were to Mainland women. Of those mainland women, 7,228 were married to Hong Kong men.
    As of 2007, any woman who is entering Hong Kong from the mainland and is more than 28 weeks pregnant can be turned away at the border if they do not have proof of hospital pre-booking, meaning the down-payment has already been made to the hospital for delivery. I had to carry one of these, even as a white foreginer, but I never got stopped and asked for it.

  9. What Hong Kong needs is less people, not more. It’s such a fantastic place, but is so crowded. There was barely any open space there, it was buildings everywhere you look; I think my eyes became near-sighted because of it.

  10. its all talk about mainland girls coming to hk to give birth…
    what about other countries girls? taiwan for instance? will their babies get HK citizenship on birth?

    • Having spent time in both Tiawan a HK and having a Mainland wife I wonder why you wonder about Tiawan women giving birth in HK. I imagine they would do what ever they could to get home before the birth of the child just to make sure their child was not HK citizen.

      I am also sure that many women who are in countries or cities away from home around the world would much rather there children be born in their native country.

      My wife was expecting a child in Germany and Korea she rushed out of Korea so my son wouldn’t be born there. She didn’t do the same in Germany with my daughter so my daughter was born in Germany. We went back to Germany for my daughters 10th birthday and she said no way she would want the German citizenship she could claim.

      Mothers really want the best for their children.

  11. One of my former snutedts who is now studying law in a local university told me that she and her group of classmates liked to get together to discuss local and international affairs even before they entered universities. Rare, isn’t it. She is now an active Year 2 student, vocal in her views and opinions about her surroundings and on U life.

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