China’s next big export to the U.S. might be pregnant.
Chinese families looking to bypass China’s one-child policy have flocked to Hong Kong over the last decade, filling its maternity wards. In 2001, 620 babies were born in Hong Kong to mainlanders. Last year the number hit 34,000.
But that’s put pressure on Hong Kong hospitals and created problems for its residents. The Chinese government has started fining parents who go to Hong Kong to have a second child. Reuters reported that the fines could be as much as six times the per capita income of the parents’ hometown.
So many Chinese families are heading straight for the U.S. to have their babies. The South China Morning Post cited an agency as saying that requests for the U.S. had more than doubled over the last few months. In part, that’s because costs to have a baby in Hong Kong have skyrocketed; agencies that arrange the hospital trips say it often costs less to fly to the U.S. and have a baby (a maximum of about $32,000).
Canada is another option, but apparently has become stingy with visas. One agency in Shenzhen province arranges baby tourism trips to Saipan, a U.S. territory that does not require Chinese citizens to get visas. It costs about $11,000 for round-trip tickets, two-months room and board and the necessary medical services. The agency claims babies born in Saipan will automatically be a U.S. citizen, the South China Morning Post reported.
No word on whether Saipan requires car seats to get the baby out of the hospital.