on 24 April 1997
Information Paper for LegCo Panel on Security Child illegal immigrants from China
In the first half of this decade, the number of surrendered II children had dropped from its peak of 1 385 in 1990 to the lowest of 94 in 1995. However, the figure rose to 540 in 1996 with 496 (92%) surfaced in the second half of the year. In the first quarter of 1997, a record 1 244 II children surrendered. The majority of these II children came from the Guangdong Province where rumours of amnesty and free movement between Hong Kong and China have been rife with the advent of the 1997 handover.
2.The Hong Kong Government has been closely monitoring the upward trend of II children and has stepped up efforts to combat illegal immigration. At the same time, we are working with the Chinese government to look for ways to improve the operation of the One Way Permit system. In addition, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments have made public statements to dispel rumours of amnesty.
3.We have enhanced liaison and exchange of intelligence on IIs with the Chinese authorities. A number of meetings have recently been held both in Hong Kong and China. The Guangdong Public Security Bureau has confirmed that they have strengthened border patrol to curb such illegal activities across the border targeting against snakeheads in particular.
4.The Hong Kong Government has taken corresponding measures to tackle the problem. We have issued statements to reiterate the Government's unequivocal stand that there is no question of any amnesty. The HKG's policy against illegal immigrants is clear -- all IIs are subject to the repatriation policy. The Immigration Department has expedited the processing of these II children cases to enable their prompt repatriation to China. The handling of II children entering Hong Kong after 30 June 1997 will be a matter for the SARG to decide.
5.We have broadcasted a new radio API (both in Cantonese and Putonghua) and are preparing a TV API to appeal to parents with children in China that there is considerable risk in making illegal journeys to Hong Kong. It is a risk not worth-taking because a system exists for entry into Hong Kong for settlement in an orderly and legal manner through the One-Way Permit Scheme. Since there is a proper channel for these children to come here legally within a reasonable time frame, parents should not risk the lives of the children to arrange their entries into Hong Kong illegally.
6.On 17.4.97, the Chinese Government's Ministry of Public Security's Immigration and Emigration Control Bureau also categorically refuted rumours of amnesty.
Effects of stepped up enforcement and publicity
7.The above efforts have been very effective. The number of surrendered II children in recent weeks has dropped significantly: Surrendered II Children in recent months
The One-Way Permit (OWP) System
8.The OWP system is to facilitate orderly arrival of PRC nationals coming for family reunion and to settle in Hong Kong. Under the current arrangements, the granting of exit permits is under the control of the Chinese authorities. The HKG's involvement is confined to the discussion and agreeing with the Chinese government on quotas and sub-quota.
9.However, from time to time, the HKG had put forward suggestions to the Chinese authorities regarding the operation of the OWP system. We understand the Chinese authorities were making efforts to improve the fairness of the system through a point system and are exploring ideas to make the system more transparent so that the parents will have more certainty on their application and therefore would not subject their children to the risks of illegal immigration.
Estimated number of eligible children
10.There have been some concerns as whether the HKG's estimation of the number of eligible children is correct. Our estimation is based on a survey carried out last year. We estimate that around 35,000 eligible children will still be in China as at 1.7.97. At the current rate, these children can all be admitted to Hong Kong by the end of 1998. It should be noted that we do not have the total number of applications in China which have not yet been forwarded to us for verification. We will only know when the applications are presented to us for verification of eligibility.
11.The current daily quota of 150 has ensured a controlled and manageable flow of PRC citizens into Hong Kong. Bearing in mind our ability to provide adequate social support, we do not plan to increase the quota.
Last Updated on 21 August 1998