On immigration and population policy

Although the Hong Kong immigration debate has probably already been beaten to a bloody pulp, it refuses to die.

RTHK, 20 Sept 2013:

A People’s Daily editorial has defended the one-way permit system for mainland immigrants to Hong Kong.

It says critics complaining about too many mainlanders settling in the territory are only trying to find a scapegoat for social problems.

The article said that some Hong Kong people had complained that mainlanders are putting a strain on resources meant for local residents. But it said that it was too simple to think these problems could be resolved by reducing the number of mainlanders coming to live in Hong Kong.

The one-way permit system allows a maximum of 150 people per day to move to the territory. The editorial points out that the Basic Law grants mainland authorities the right to issue such permits, so there’s no question of the Hong Kong government “taking back” this power.

More people means more space needed to accommodate these people.  So what is a city to do? Unlike Hong Kong, most cities can always expand into the countryside.  That is how megalopolises like that in the northeastern US (Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York City-Boston) form.  China itself is said to have 13 megalopolises.  The problem is that three coastal megapolises (PRD, Yangtze, and Bohai) happen to be considerably richer than the other 10, and these are where everybody will naturally want to work, and a urban region can only expand so fast.  Thus Shanghai’s version of Hong Kong’s locust ad (written in Shanghainese, no less):

shanghai

But what about Hong Kong?  It cannot expand.  It cannot even reject would-be immigrants it finds undesirable.  Just recently, a man previously convicted of the manslaughter of an Immigration Department official was found back in Hong Kong on a one-way permit.

p

As for just how many people were admitted to Hong Kong so far?  Between July 1, 1997 and Dec 31, 2012, a total of 762044 permits were issued, accounting for a tenth of Hong Kong’s total population.  It has been shown by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre in 2008 that almost all of Hong Kong’s population growth since the handover has come from OWP holders.  In fact, between 2001 and 2005, OWP arrivals are shown to even outstrip population growth, irrefutable proof of Hong Kongers being replaced by mainlanders in their own city at a alarming rate.

Source: Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre

Source: Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre

It has, of course, been argued that the right of families to be united is a fundamental right.  The problem is that it is common knowledge that mainlanders are gaming the system.  How can the rules be changed?

  • Restrict the right to work for a certain period of time, ensuring that the sponsor of the new immigrant is actually willing to take him/her on as a dependent.
  • Restrict the rights of Hong Kong permanent residences to become sponsors of OWP holders if they themselves have settled in Hong Kong via OWP.
  • Restrict the right of children born in Hong Kong after 1997 to apply to sponsor their parents and siblings to enter Hong Kong (the “double-negatives” or anchor babies)
  • Establish/increase random questioning of spouses (how long have you two been married, etc.)  If there are any discrepancies in the answers, throw the application out.

Unfortunately, these rules are not for Hong Kong to change.  The issuance of OWPs lies solely within the jurisdiction of the central government.  Which is patently ridiculous, I must say.  How can a territory not be in charge of its own borders?

There are also some people claiming that Hong Kong needs immigration to counter its super-low birth rate, especially now that Hong Kong has imposed its “zero birth quota” policy for mainland mothers.  This, however, raises the question of why Hong Kong does not have more kids of its own.  The answer can only be found in bad government policies which pretty much discourages childbirth: limited maternity leave, a crappy education system made even crappier by the need to accommodate thousands of cross-border students, and a toxic work environment making many couples too busy for even sex, never mind actually raising a child.  For the Hong Kong and central governments to state that Hong Kong’s birth rate is too low, yet not do anything about it, suggests that they are either incompetent or, worse, malevolent.  And there are more than a few people who believe in the latter.  They think that it is the plan of Beijing to limit local birth while continuing to pack Hong Kong with tens of thousands of immigrants each year.  This way, it can ensure that new Hong Kongers are loyal to the central regime.  Come 2017, the point of universal suffrage may already be moot.

Of course, while family reunion is the main factor behind Hong Kong immigration, it is not the only one.  There is also the “Quality” Migrant Admission Scheme, among others.  It has been argued that Hong Kong needs foreign talent and immigration is necessary for Hong Kong’s economic growth.  However, as the Passion Times points out:

Using economic reasons to cover up political conspiracy is an old trick of our government. “Foreign talent” is doublespeak for “PRC colonists”; “internationalization” is doublespeak for “Sinicization”. Just look at the “internationalization” of our city’s universities for an example. Opening Hong Kong to foreign talent, attracting parents of double-negatives, developing the North-east New Territories PRC concession [translation note: the real name is the North-east New Territories New Development Area], the mass admission of PRC students at the expense of locals, all boil down to one thing.

The ethnic cleansing [translation note: originally “Tibetification”] of Hong Kong is in full force. Like a frog being boiled, time is running out to jump out of the pot.

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One thought on “On immigration and population policy

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