Mainland parents of HK-born kids in a bind

Mainland parents of HK-born kids in a bind
Pupils at a Beijing elementary school. There is no legal U-turn for mainlanders who regret having their children born in Hong Kong. Without a mainland birth certificate, children cannot attend public schools on the mainland.

Somewhere in the western Chinese province of Yunnan, a doting father is contemplating breaking the law.

He is weighing the odds of creating a fake identity for his son. The reason: so that the five-year-old can go to a public school at home.

This was not what the 34-year-old and his wife anticipated when they decided they wanted their son born in Hong Kong, he told The Straits Times.

Doing so granted their only child a Hong Kong passport and its privileges like visa-free entry to 147 countries and the option of living in the city in the future.

But without a mainland birth certificate, he does not have a hukou - China's household registration certificate that gives the holder the right to public benefits such as free schooling and health care at his place of birth.

"I just followed what others did," said the father who wanted to be known only as Mr Wang. "I was just thinking of how good Hong Kong is, and how it benefits my son to be a Hong Konger.

"We felt it was our first gift to him, to celebrate his entry into the world."

This is a conundrum that has come home to roost for a growing number of mainland parents.

Since 2001, when Hong Kong courts ruled that a baby born here to mainland parents is entitled to be a Hong Konger, more than 200,000 mainland mothers have made their way here to give birth until a ban was implemented this year after complaints from locals about a shortage of hospital beds.

In 2001, there were just 620 shuang fei ("double negative" to denote both parents without Hong Kong residency) babies born here.

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