After all those attempts to make Hong Kong a centre for cruise ships, high-tech, Chinese medicine and a hundred other lost causes, the city has inadvertently become a fetal gender testing hub. It is possible these days to detect a fetus’s DNA in the mother’s blood from around eight weeks after conception. Check for a Y chromosome, and you can find out whether the baby will be a boy, who will grow up to continue the family line, or a girl, who will grow up to look after her husband’s aging parents while you rot.
Such tests are illegal in the Mainland, where – thanks to the one-child policy – abortion of undesirable unborn females means that the country now produces 18% more boys than girls. But there is no such bar in the Big Lychee, so entrepreneurial testing labs are apparently doing a thriving trade. What the Global Times story doesn’t make clear is how, in cases where the expectant mother’s blood is drawn in Shenzhen, the sample moves across the border in violation of customs regulations. It does seem likely that Hong Kong regulations are being broken in this sordid trade/weird example of ‘1 country 2 systems’ in action/exciting new business opportunity.
We are also violating national policy. Just three months ago, authorities in Beijing announced specific targets to reduce illegal sex-selective abortions. Now along comes Hong Kong, even under loyalist Chief Executive CY Leung, flagrantly opposing the central people’s government, tut tut. As if rejecting patriotic education in schools weren’t bad enough.
What is Hong Kong facilitating exactly here? The demographics may not be quite as distorted as they seem, since some newborn baby girls in the Mainland aren’t registered, but they’re not drowned in buckets either. And experts say that a surplus of men increases the social status and power of women as they marry up – at least, for the ones who aren’t kidnapped and sold. Generally, though, it’s bad news: a large cohort of unmarried lower-class men will contribute to crime, social instability and even make war more likely. But hey – that’s what being a hub is all about: having influence beyond your size. Trafficking of women from Southeast Asia will probably rise too, so we’d better get on with that third runway.
Needless to say: it’s all Westerners’ fault, anyway.
China can launch nukes from anywhere in the country (left)… but can’t build bridges (right).