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Welcome to the 2010 Guerilla Girls Blog! We are the Guerilla Girls! We are 13 Hao Ran Foundation volunteers (all females!) and we will soon get to deploy our wings in different countries of the world to work with various non-governmental organizations and social movements as a way to reinforce social justice and solidarity. We wish to open communication and share our experience with the rest of the world, because we strongly believe that ‘ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE!’ Read More

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2011年3月24日 星期四

One Way Permit makes the China Marriage Migrants Chapfallen and Macerated Mothers


One Way Permit makes the China Marriage Migrants Chapfallen and Macerated Mothers

Lola Chih-Hsien Huang 黃芷嫻

I. Forced separation: etry to H.K.? “Wait” first and “line up”!

“You can have a cross-border marriage

but that doesn’t mean

you are admitted to reunite with family in H.K.”

According to the statistics, cross-border marriages are around 35000 cases and local marriages are around 29000 cases in Hong Kong in 2006(Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, 2008). In other words, the amount of cross-border marriages is more than a half of total marriage numbers in Hong Kong in 2006. Hong Kong Economic Trends pointed out that the sum of cross-border marriages between China and Hong Kong is estimated at 22951 in 2008(Census and Statistics Department, 2009).China-Hong Kong families (CHF) play increasingly roles in H.K. CHF, the same as all local families, hope they can reunite with their families and have the happy time together. However, China Marriage Migrants(CMM) who are H.K. citizens’ legal wives, are restricted under OWP policy: some of them are struggling back and forth between China and H.K., some are depressed due to be unable to reunite with their families or have the right of abode. Undoubtedly, OWP causes distresses and throws the unexploded bombs on China-Hong Kong families.

1. The regulation of One-Way Permit(OWP)

Under the current regulations, OWP receives 150 applicants per day and it is allotted for 60 children applicants holding Certificate of Entitlement, 30 spouses applicants separated for 10 years or more and their accompanying children and 60 applicants belonging to other categories. Included under other categories are spouses separated for less than 10 years and their accompanying children, unsupported children who need to join their relatives in Hong Kong, persons coming to Hong Kong to take care of their unsupported aged parents and unsupported elderly people coming to join relatives in H.K. (Immigration Department, 2011). OWP applicants need to wait for at least 4 years[1] before his/ her application have been approved and it is varied according to which provinces of China CMM lives. Further, OWP sanctions interviews with husband and wife in the division of exit-entry administration of Public Security Bureau. Therefore, CMM whose status are widows, divorce or not in good terms with their husbands or their husbands are missing cannot able to get or hardly get an approval of their application for OWP.

For CMMs who are required to spend 4 years to get OWP their marriage are fullof uncertainties and difficulties. They are forced to live in different environments with their husbands and suffer separation from their families in home country.. A harmonious family life which everyone dream of is a faraway from reality and can be considered as impossible dream for them.

Moreover, in a difficult situations like death of their husband or their husband have been found missing in which CMMs have no control about it the waiting period for the approval of their OWP might come to nothing even though they are H.K. citizens legal wives and have children longing for care.

China and H.K. government do not care about the difficulties and sufferings that CMMs experience just to stay with their families.

In addition, other CMMs who fall under other categories or in special situations are not qualified for OWP application and are allowed to stay in H.K. temporarily through “visit relatives” visa and it spells another trouble for them.

2. Harass the people and drain the treasury

CMM with no OWP or not qualified to apply for can able to visit their families through Two-Ways Permit (TWP) which allows them to stay in H.K. for 3 months at the maximum. Some over-optimists persons would say: "Even if CMM did not get OWP, still they can apply for TWP to visit their relatives".

But this argument overlooked the heavy economic burdens that CHF bear in order to get TWP visa.

Many H.K. husbands are forced to quit their jobs or to take on leave in order to take care of their children if their wives didn’t get OWP or/and while their wives are out of Hong Kong just to get TWP visa upon arrival in the country. (Salorio and Casia-Cabantac2010 ).

It is even more difficult for CMMs because they are forced to resign from their jobs [in the mainland] in order to comply with the requirements of having TWP and upon given the visa to H.K. they are not allowed to work. And once CMMs have found illegally working in Hong Kong , they would go to jail[2] and then be deported back to China.

The CMMs who apply for TWP visa found working illegally in Hong Kong prior to their application would easily rejected afterward by H.K. government.

If CMMs want to reunite with their families and pass through legal processes, their families’ income would be affected and solely depend to their husband capacities to support the families and with economic crisis affecting every family it cannot discount the possibilities that even their husband lost the capacities to support the families during the application for TWP.

CHFs under TWP visa aside from their daily needs such as food, shelter, health, education etc. are oblige to allot expenses for trip from Hong Kong to mainland China or vise-versa every three months and the visa extension fee which is HK$ 160 for 7~14days(Legislative Council, 2010).

Once CMM’s visa expired they cannot get visa extension , and have no choice but to go back China and wait for another chance to apply for entry visa to H.K.

CHFs are constantly on the run and should always extend their already meager budget to pay for fees and requirements that necessitates their stay with their families and yet they do not know when this circle of difficulties and uncertainties would come to an end. Hong Kong policies certainly restrict and oppress the CHF and worse the CMM are stuck in the stigma of “lack of productivity” that Hong Kong government itself are made liable

3. Overstaying

We are not surprised, CMMs who can not get OWP all the times have no ability to get TWP. CMM is the same as with local families here, women are expected to carry the burden of taking care of the family. But the difference between local families and CHF is that CMMs bears the responsibility of family care but have no right to abode in H.K. CMM who can not afford the travelling and visa extension costs so many times have no choice but to overstay and become “residents in the dark”. CMMs who are residents in the dark are H.K. citizens’ legal wives and their children’s mothers have no access to social welfare because they are not permanent residents, and also have no right to medical treatment as “visitors”. They live in the “dark” to avoid being searched. Although they need assistance, they can not come out for fear of being deported.

II. The abuse of administrative discretion

Under the special relation called “one country, two systems” between China and H.K., the sanction of OWP was held by China government. However, H.K. government can not dismiss peccancy and defaults in the name of “no right of the sanction”. China and H.K. government are liable for difficulties that the CHF encounters.

1. Officials are boss: give money, get entry permission!

At the surface, the application procedure of OWP is according to “objective” standards: applicants in different types have different “passing scores”, called “a system of accumulating scores, based on the numbers of waiting days. Nevertheless, under-the-table arrangements are still prevalent: one CMM applied to the OWP and“paid officials 2000RMB totally to get it……officials said they have all kinds of reasons to “charge fees” ” (Ho, 2006:149). In the film “Poverty in H.K.: New Immigrants”, another CMM commentedthat “every time I had to give gifts, and then officials were willing to deal with TWP for me”. The situation of “the higher levels of government have policies while the lower ones find ways of getting around them” gives divisions of exit and entry administration and provide Department of Public Security officials the excessive discretionary powers to sanction an application. .

2. Discretion without transparent standards

As I mentioned above, briberies have undermined the “transparent” and” objective” basic procedures and have given individual officials too much power of discretion. Additionally, government officials in China have sanctioned certain applications without showing us the bases for such sanctions , and applications of OWP submitted to the Chinese government are decided on by divisions of exit-and-entry officials o of the department of public security indifferent provinces in China. Apparently, no modus operandi can be traced.

For the H.K. government, CMMs who are H.K. citizens’ legal wives and children’s mothers should not be seen as outsiders in H.K. Many NGOs have urged H.K. government to accelerate the establishment of communication channels and the improvement of coordinating mechanisms (Legislative Council, 2010a, b), but they do not have specific answers. H.K. government has set no clear parameters and we don’t know exactly what kind of cases they are willing to respond to China that will enable CMMs to gainentry to H.K.

The H.K. government has also failed to create implementing rules and regulations for pertinent laws, in order to respond to the needs of CMMs under particular circumstances. H.K. has been called a democratic society and the relevant laws are essentially similar as in China: public officials have anexcess of administrative discretion over CMM cases. The end-result is that China and H.K. governments can easily respond to the urgent needs of CMMs under the excuse of “discretion case by case” and do nothing or deal with the cases objectively(Legislative Council, 2009; 2011a,b), while those who really need assistance but have no backdoor access are largely ignored.

III. The plight of widowed CMMs

“I was not at fault but I have to bearall the bad consequences …”

This is the best portrayal of a widowed CMM.

In the last phase of OWP application, husbands have to go to China and both husbands and wives are required to sign and be interviewed . Accordingly, unexpected variables such as divorcees, widows, or those with missing husbands etc. decide their futures during the waiting time for 4 years. It was not their fault but they have to bear the negative results. They have to struggle for their rights vis-a-vis the China and H.K. governments and beg them for permits. If there is no prohibitive OWP policy, most CMMs are independent, courageous and strong, just like most H.K. women, and they don’t have to grovel for a family reunion!

One policy separates all hopes of family reunion;

One policy defines the woes of widowed CMM.

Before the age of 60, the widowed CMM needs to raise children on her own but without a working permit, and she only needs to apply the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance(CSSA) under the names of her children. One CSSA covers two persons. Furthermore, the cost of applying for an extension visa make their lives worse. An extension visa costs 160HKD per time for only 7-14 days, and permission is based onthe results of sanctions (Legislative Council, 2010b). This means that a widowed CMM only has 3 ways to reunite with children: 1) to pay 160HKD and get a visa extension every 14 days, if possible; 2) go back to China to reapply. Undoubtedly, they have to pay for all travel and application expenses ; 3) overstay and become “residents in the dark”.

IV. Conclusions

Most CMMs face the same situation as other married women in H.K.,taking care of children and doing the housework, even if they have to exhaust themselves shuttling between China and H.K. However, CMMs fulfill all obligations as “mother” and “wife” but still have no access to social welfare because they are not “permanent residents” under the law, let alone being a CMM in particular circumstances.

One sentence can describe the CHF’s situation: “a permissive marriage without the liberty of family life”. CMMs are victims of the OWP policy, and those in particular circumstances are the “human ball” being kicked out by the Chinese and H.K. governments. CMMs are the legal wives of some H.K. citizens’ and are their children’s mothers, but the H.K. government apparently can not exempt them from the OWP sanction.

Reference

Ho, Kit Mui Juanita,2006, ”Stories of Marriage Migration: Identity Negotiation of Chinese Immigrant Women in Hong Kong”. The University of Hong Kong.

Salorio, Cristal and Vicky Casia-Cabantac, 2010, “Hong Kong”, For better or for worse. Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants(APMM).

Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, 2008,《從單程證制度探索香港的人口政策》

http://www.bauhinia.org/publications/tchi_OWP_Report.pdf

Census and Statistics Department , 2009,Hong Kong Social and Economic Trends

http://www.censtatd.gov.hk

Immigration Department, 2011

http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/hkvisas_9.htm#settlement

Poverty in H.K.: New Immigrants. Part2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAHakV2NV9k&feature=related

Legislative Council , 2004, Paper No. CB(2)279/04-05(01)

2009Paper No. C B ( 2 ) 5 1 4 / 0 9 - 1 0

2010a, Paper No. C B ( 2 ) 5 6 1 / 1 0 - 1 1

2010b, Paper No. CB(2)816/10-11(02)

2011a, Paper No. CB(2)816/10-11(04)

2011b, Paper No.CB(2)816/10-11(02)



[1] CMM were waiting for the sanction of OWP for 7 years in Guangdong, others for 5 years around in other provinces (Legislative Council, 2004).

2According to Immigration Ordinance Sect 41, “Breach of condition of stay”: Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 5 and to imprisonment for 2 years.

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