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When It's Made In China And Born In America

To dodge fines in China for violating the one-child policy and give the advantages of an American passport, many Chinese women are flying to the U.S. to give birth. But there are risks involved.

In Shanghai
In Shanghai
Han Yuting

FUJIAN — The Chinese romantic comedy Finding Mr. Right, released earlier this year, portrays the droves of Chinese going overseas to have their babies.

Lin Hao (not his real name) is a senior executive at a well-known enterprise in Fujian and is part of this wave. He arranged for his wife to give birth to their second child in the U.S., a rare chance to have an “American Baby.”

To many Chinese, traveling to the United States to give birth makes good sense. The U.S. Constitution provides that children born on U.S. soil automatically receive American citizenship. Meanwhile, parents like Lin Hao face expensive fines amounting to several years’ income for having more children than China’s family planning policy allows. A baby with foreign citizenship isn’t subject to these fines.

Contrary to the stereotype of poor immigrants giving birth to “anchor babies” in the U.S. to secure citizenship, those leading China’s overseas birth tourism are the nouveaux riches — celebrities, officials, professors, doctors, business owners and media executives. In addition to dodging punishments for violating Chinese family planning policies, they also hope a U.S. passport will enhance their child’s travel and education opportunities down the line.

There are also those who absolutely must give birth abroad or face unthinkable consequences. These include mistresses giving birth out of wedlock and government officials who risk their political careers if they have too many children.

Searching for a host

In the past, Hong Kong was the hottest destination for Chinese birth tourists since it also follows the “principle of territory,” giving citizenship to any child born within its borders. But locals became angry when so many mothers from Mainland China started crowding the city’s hospitals. So the new Hong Kong government recently announced that both public and private hospitals would stop accepting pregnant women in cases when neither the mother nor father are Hong Kong residents.

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