Pregnant Chinese woman hides in airport for a week to deliver baby in Hong Kong

© Bobby Yip
A heavily pregnant Chinese woman wanted her unborn child to be born in Hong Kong so desperately, she hid in the airport for a week.

The 26-year-old was sentenced to six months in jail on Wednesday for hiding in a restricted area of Hong Kong International Airport from July 14 - 21, according to The Standard.

Xie Miaoling deliberately missed her connecting flight to Guangzhou, and illegally camped out in the airport until she finally went into labour, only alerting airport staff when she began experiencing labour pains and needed medical assistance.

Children born in Hong Kong to mainland Chinese women (or ‘anchor babies’ as they are also referred to) are given the right of abode and are also able to benefit from Hong Kong’s education system.

Tourism took a sharp dive following the SARS outbreak in 2003, in an attempt to boost the Hong Kong economy The Individual Visit Scheme was launched. The scheme allowed travelers to visit the city on an individual basis, as opposed to previous years when only travelers with business visas or group tours could enter. 

However, expectant mothers soon took advantage of the new travel rules and, at its peak, in 2010 over 32,000 anchor babies were born, putting much strain on hospital resources and leading to criticism of the scheme.

In 2012 CY Leung, incumbent Chief Executive of Hong Kong, changed policy by disallowing pregnant women from booking obstetric services at public hospitals and banning mainland Chinese mothers from giving birth in private hospitals - unless their husbands are HK residents.

Since then, the number of anchor baby births have dropped dramatically, 254 non-eligible mothers gave birth in Hong Kong’s Accident and Emergency Departments in 2015. Of these, 98 were women from mainland China, according to Hospital Authority statistics.