Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rich Chinese seek U.S Homes & Birth Tourism

In my earlier post, Birth Tourism in the U.S NBC News reported that many wealthy Chinese mothers are willing to pay their agents to arrange and fly over to the U.S.A, just to deliver their babies. They will put on loose clothing to hide their tummies and memorize the facts and are even practising for interviews, in order to get through the Immigration Department at the airports in the USA. The reason is, any child born in the U.S. will automatically get green card citizenship even though his/her parents aren't U.S citizen which is the LOOP HOLE to attract Chinese mothers for the risk of green card citizenship.

Besides the birth tourism in the U.S, those extremely or middle-class wealthy Chinese families, they are willing to invest more than US$1million, in order to get green card (US citizenship) as well as investing on home property in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle where majority of Asians live along the West Coast of the United States, due to strong economy growth, jobs prospect especially in Engineering, Research and I.T, better education prospect for children and enjoying the balance lifestyle between work and family as what many Asians are searching for. As such, the U.S home prices soared 12.1 percent while the home prices in California has jumped up by 19.4 percent since 7 years ago which eventually becomes a huge burden and unaffordable to many typical American families to get their dream homes.

Life Imitates Art as Chinese Seek Out Seattle Homes 
June 5 (Bloomberg) -- The latest box-office movie champ in China 'Beijing Meets Seattle' is putting the emerald city on the map for Chinese property investors. The city is cheaper than west coast neighbors Vancouver and San Fransisco, driving Chinese value investors to look at Seattle, which is seeing a recovery in home prices. Steve Engle has more. (Source: Bloomberg)

Pregnant and Bound for America: Why Chinese Moms Want to Give Birth on U.S. Soil

Getty Images

This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global—news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in Economic Observer.

When Liu Li boarded a plane for the United States, she had a little bit of makeup on, was wearing a loose dress, and had her hair up. She tried to hold her handbag in front of her belly in a natural way, just as the middleman had taught her. She was trying to look as calm as any wealthy Chinese lady would look when travelling abroad. But Liu Li couldn't help feeling terribly nervous: she was six months pregnant when she left for the United States, where she wanted to give birth to an American citizen.

Liu Li knew that going through customs would be a lot easier than obtaining a U.S. visa. In order to obtain the tourist visa that enabled her to go to America for the delivery, she had to carefully choose her clothes, and spend a lot of time practicing her walking and interview techniques. She memorized a host of details about her hotel booking and about famous sight-seeing spots so as to convince the Embassy officer that she was just another Chinese woman going shopping in the States.
 The temptation of a 'born in the USA' child
Giving birth to a child abroad is not a privilege reserved to the stars and the very wealthy. An increasing number of expectant middle-class parents also fancy giving their children passports that they can feel proud of. "The return on investment is higher than robbing a bank," the consultancy agent tells women such as Liu. When Chinese children are born in America, they automatically become U.S. citizens. Once they reach 21, their parents will be able to apply for green cards and emigrate.

Those who would prefer a closer destination can go to Hong Kong, whose passport gives access to more than 120 countries without the need of a visa. Advantages include the fact that children will receive bilingual education (which will give them a foothold in the international world), and the fact that they will also enjoy the preferential policies for going to Chinese universities.

After consulting quite a few agencies for expectant mothers, Liu Li chose a reputable one. Airplane tickets, fees for labor, pre- and post-delivery care cost her roughly 20,000. Since most airlines refuse to accept women passengers who are more than 32 weeks pregnant, Liu Li set off for America when she was six months pregnant and then checked into a Chinese birthing center in California.

After her arrival, Liu Li realized that the area was full of facilities set up for Chinese women like herself. On the limited occasions when Liu Li goes to the Punete Hill Mall near her birthing center — the facility limits walks outside its premises to three per week, each time for about three hours — Liu Li bumps into lots of pregnant Chinese women. Birthing centers such as Liu Li's, which are mostly situated in America's beautiful west coastal areas, operate without a business license, and try to be as discreet as possible. In April, a number of illegally converted maternity centers in Los Angeles were discovered and shut down, which makes Liu Li very nervous.

Incompatible nationalities
Going to the United States to give birth and taking a foreign born child back to China usually proves relatively easy. The difficult part starts only later, as Song Jingwen is starting to understand. Because her son has a U.S. passport, the law does not allow him to be registered in his mother's local area, which means that he will not be automatically admitted to Chinese schools. Song will have to register him as a foreigner, and pay an extra fee. His access to education and health care also faces a lot of constraints.

"Some parents obtain fake birth certificates for their children, or cheat the Chinese Embassy to get them Chinese passports. But then they can't get visas or go abroad," Song explains. She is still hesitating on what to do next. If Song gets her son a fake hukou (the Chinese registration system), which would make it easier for him to go to a local school, she fears that all the efforts she has made up to now could be in vain.

A few years ago, Zhao Yong easily obtained a Shanghai hukou for his American born child. "Every time we want to go to the States, we have to get the Hongkong-Macao permit to go though Chinese customs, go to Hong Kong, then fly to the United States and enter the country with the American passport," Zhao Yong says. "The trip is a little bit complicated, but if we fly directly from Shanghai to the States, we won't be able to hide the truth."

Under Chinese law, double nationality is prohibited. According to the American Embassy, once a child has obtained a Chinese hukou, he is considered to have given up his American nationality. The United States is not the only country with strict regulations. A child born in Hong Kong doesn't get the Hong Kong resident identity card right away, but has to go back to Hong Kong regularly — every year or two until he is 18 — in order to register as a "returned resident," and keep his nationality.

The so-called 'citizen's welfare'
According to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution (ratified in 1868), anyone born in United States automatically becomes an American citizen and obtains access to public education, university loans, voting, and so on... Even so, if one does not work in America or pay taxes after the age of 15, one can only enjoy very limited access to U.S. welfare benefits. "The system doesn't totally exclude people who don't pay taxes here, but those who do not pay as much tax as Americans do cannot expect the same benefits. But each state has different regulations," says Mr. Yang, a Chinese born man who works in New Jersey and has a green card.

"Giving birth to a child in the States is a wonderful dream, but a very costly one too," Song Jingwen concludes. "People who choose to go down this path must know that they will not be paying only for birthing and post birthing care, but they will also be paying a lot more for the whole life."

(All names used in this article are pseudonyms)


New Movie ‘Beijing Meets Seattle’: A Northwest Romance Made for China

A movie poster shows the Space Needle.

“Sleepless in Seattle” must have made a lasting impression on Chinese moviegoers and filmmakers alike.  A new romcom titled “Beijing Meets Seattle” (北京遇上西雅图) in Chinese, or “Finding Mr. Right” in English, is being publicized in China, where it is scheduled to open in theaters on March 15.

Starring Tang Wei (汤唯) of “Lust, Caution,” the film portrays a young Chinese woman named Jiajia, the materialistic girlfriend of a Chinese tycoon. In a ploy to gain U.S. residency, she comes to Seattle pregnant. She stays at a birthing center, where she meets a handsome doctor, Frank, played by Wu Xiubo (吴秀波) , a Chinese immigrant and single dad. Jiajia loses contact with her wealthy boyfriend in China, and eventually Jiajia and Frank fall for each other. Later Jiajia’s boyfriend reappears and takes her back to China, where she can lead a life of comfort and luxury in Beijing. But Jiajia’s feelings for Frank win out and she decides to return to the U.S. to find him.

While Seattle may be the city of choice for the story, the location scenes were actually shot in Vancouver, B.C. Scenes of English Bay and Granville Island are visible in the trailer clips. But the North American lifestyle features prominently — the couple walking along a marina or drinking red wine in front of a festive Christmas tree.

Director and writer Xiaolu Xue (薛晓路) of Beijing Central Television has helped create a number of Chinese-themed TV series, such as “You Smile and I Cry” (你在微笑我却哭了) and movies, such as “Love in the Forbidden City” (紫禁城奇恋). Her “Beijing Meets Seattle,” however, touches upon a cross-national subject, one that may be popular among Chinese viewers but controversial in the U.S. — foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to give birth.

Jiajia (Tang Wei) and Frank (Wu Xiubo) fall in love in Seattle.
Time magazine’s 2011 story “Pregnant and Bound for America: Why Chinese Moms Want to Give Birth on U.S. Soil,” described the growing trend of wealthier pregnant women getting tourist visas to fly to the United States and give birth in America to make their babies American citizens.

Connected to so-called maternity tourism, birthing-home operations have made headlines in California and New York. Recently, such operations in Southern California have been the target of loud complaints and protests from local residents. Los Angeles County has taken measures to crack down on such businesses.

In the fictional Seattle birthing center where Jiajia stays in the movie, director Xue combines a social phenomenon in modern China with the longing for an American-style sentimental love story featured in “Sleepless in Seattle.” Likewise, Xue chooses the Empire State Building as the place where Jiajia and Frank reunite two years later.

While the subject is controversial, depicting a type of business many would frown upon, Seattleites can be happy that at least Chinese moviegoers would once again look to the city as a destination for romance.


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