Imagining accidental fetal citizens: pregnant Mainland women and the cultural politics of birthright citizenship
Tsung-yi Michelle HUANG, Chun-kai WOO, Yen-fu LAI
ABSTRACT This essay looks at the mobility of pregnant Mainland women in Hong Kong to expose the reverberations of the SAR government’s immigration policies relating to cross-border birth tourism. Pregnant Mainland women and their children (fetuses), as emergent social subjects, embody conflict and the negotiation between population governance and economic benefits. The government denies pregnant Mainland women the right to give birth in Hong Kong based on their non-eligible status while admitting their children to be born in Hong Kong on the grounds that their children meet Hong Kong’s future demand for population renewal, in this way boosting the development of childbirth tourism. However, the localism, which has had an extensive influence on Hong Kong local society in recent years, has rejected the SAR government’s “population renewal” imaginary by suggesting its own “locust imaginary.” The government’s acceptance and the local’s exclusion of the population flow between China and Hong Kong imply distinct cross-border subject imaginations. Only by contextualizing and critically analyzing the various othering identities such as the non-eligible or locusts can we better understand the cultural politics of Hong Kong birthright citizenship over recent years.
KEYWORDS: Pregnant mainland woman; birthright citizenship; fetal citizen; reproductive futurism; birth tourism; localism; Sino-Hong Kong relationship
Notes on contributors
Tsung-yi Michelle Huang is a Professor of Geography at National Taiwan University, who specializes in East Asian urban cultures. She is the author of Walking Between Slums and Skyscrapers: Illusions of Open Space in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai (2004) and Articulating New Cultural Identities: Self-Writing of East Asian Global City-Regions (Chinese) (2008). She is currently preparing her new book, Facing the Rise of China: Geopolitics of Emotion and Narratives of Development.
Chun-kai Woo is a Ph.D. candidate of Department of Geography, National Taiwan University.
Yen-fu Lai received his master from Department of Geography, National Taiwan University.