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Facing Aging Population Crisis, Hong Kong Considers “More Children Policy”

by Brian Lee | Hong Kong | LifeNews.com | 10/22/13 2:08 PM

International

In an ironic twist, Hong Kong is considering a so-called “More-Children Policy”.

According to Shanghaiist.com, Hong Kong’s Steering Committee on Population Policy is considering giving cash handouts and tax rebates to families that choose to have more children.  Other proposals include tax incentives to employers to provide childcare for their employees, paid leave for parents to regularly visit their children’s schools, and greater access to assisted reproductive treatments.

Why would Hong Kong, a bustling economy known for its expensive real estate, want more people than it already has?  Because it is aging too quickly.  Demographers predict that by 2041, over 33% of all Hong Kong residents will be aged 65 or over.  By comparison, in the U.S., the elderly make up just over 13% of the total population.

Unlike mainland China, Hong Kong has never had a coercive family planning policy such as the One-Child Policy.  Yet, due to natural demographic shifts in response to growing affluence, Hong Kong’s birth rate has dropped to well below replacement rate, which is just over two children per couple.

Hong Kong isn’t alone in this reality.  Singapore, for instance, offers incentives of up to $6,400 for couples who choose to have more children.  Most developed countries, including Japan and South Korea, are also facing the same demographic “winter”, the term used to described their aging societies.

What is unfortunate in the midst of all this is that Hong Kong recently announced a ban on Chinese mothers coming from the mainland to give birth.  Prior to that ban, many mothers from mainland China fled the One-Child Policy in order to give birth in hong Kong, where they would be safe from the threat of forced abortion and forced sterilization.  Even though these mothers would eventually have to return to the mainland, their children would at least be unharmed as the Chinese government does not allow the killing of babies once they have been born.

Instead of paying Hong Kong mothers–who are happy with smaller families–to have more children, All Girls Allowed believes that Hong Kong’s government should reopen the doors for mainland Chinese mothers–who want more children–to come into Hong Kong to give birth.  Moreover, we pray that Hong Kong would provide asylum for these same mothers, to enable them to stay in Hong Kong, free from the grips of the One-Child Policy.

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This would be a “win-win” situation for Hong Kong, as the city would get its increased younger population, it would save funds from having to incentivize reproduction, and it would benefit from the financial investment coming from the mainland through these mothers.

But whether or not Hong Kong would benefit from the outcome, welcoming Chinese mothers is the right thing to do.

LifeNews Note: Brian Lee is the director of All Girls Allowed, a human rights group.