How family policies redefine families: The case of mainland China–Hong Kong cross-border families

Wai Chi Chee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


During China's one-child policy era (1979–2015), birth tourism in Hong Kong (HK) became a way for Chinese parents who wanted more children to avoid the regulations. From 2003 to 2012, about 200,000 babies were born in HK to mainland Chinese parents. This paper explores how the one-child policy, migration regulations, and welfare provision jointly influence family practices of mainland parents who gave birth in HK. Data are drawn from ethnographic research conducted with 45 mothers staying in HK on temporary visas to look after their HK-born children. Research findings show these parents need to negotiate with the following contradictory circumstances: a one-child policy that disregarded cultural preference for sons; migration regimes that separated parent from child and thus challenged the cultural ideal of an intact family; and welfare policies that stigmatized the parents as irresponsible in a context where families are widely regarded as care providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-489
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • biopolitics
  • citizenship
  • cross-border families
  • family well-being
  • migration infrastructure
  • one-child policy


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