Category Archives: Pearl River Delta and Greater South China

Reacting to the foreign influx

Reacting to the foreign influx

More people are crossing borders to live and work in another country. While they might help plug gaps in their host countries’ labour force, their presence in large numbers can also be a strain on public resources and trigger local resentment. Governments have responded in various ways, and some have cut back on rights for foreigners, as The Straits Times’ correspondents found.

By Li Xueying, The Straits Times, 2 Jun 2012

Subscribers of The Straits Times can view the original report in full at

BRITISH-BORN Alex Lombardo, 46, has called Kuala Lumpur his home for six years. He has long got the hang of local lingo like ‘alamak’, mastered fiery sambal belachan and last year, settled down with his Malaysian wife, a freelance writer.

But when the couple went shopping for an apartment, Mr Lombardo, who is also a writer, found that he would have to hew to a new restriction: Like all foreigners, he can buy only more expensive property valued at at least RM500,000 (S$205,000) – up from RM250,000 two years ago.


Across the Causeway, something similar is brewing. Over the past year, Singapore has been sharpening the distinctions between citizens, permanent residents (PRs) and non-resident foreigners, in response to growing disgruntlement among Singaporeans over the influx of foreigners.

In recent months, this stance has extended from education (priority will be given to Singaporean pupils enrolling in Primary 1) to entry to tourist attractions (Singaporeans will pay $20 to enter the new Gardens by the Bay; foreigners $28).

Across the world, other governments are taking steps in the same direction.

In Australia, for instance, non-citizens have seen their entitlements, particularly access to health benefits and social security, shrink. From the late 1990s, PRs have had to wait two years before they can claim unemployment benefits. There is also a 10-year wait for disability handouts.

Globally, more people are crossing borders – an estimated one in every 35 people at the beginning of the 21st century was an international migrant. At play are two factors: globalisation, propelling labour to follow the flow of capital and goods; and demographics, which has forced countries with ageing labour forces to open their doors to foreigners.

But this also has domestic populaces baulking at the increased strain that public resources are coming under. In Britain, for instance, public housing is open to all, including foreigners. There are no restrictions, so long as they fulfil needs-based criteria such as low income levels, and are legally settled.

But with five million people on the waiting list, the scheme is now under debate, with Mr Frank Field, a senior MP from the opposition Labour Party, preparing to table a Bill that gives priority to citizens.

Hong Kong has also seen a reversal in a specific area in recent weeks following the election of Chief Executive-elect Leung Chun Ying. Traditionally liberal in extending public services to foreigners, whether PRs or non-PRs, Hong Kong – bowing to public pressure – will next year ban mainland Chinese mothers from giving birth there unless they are married to a local.

Currently, they are entitled to do so, with their babies reaping benefits such as permanent residency, subsidised health care and free education.

This has given rise to what sociologist Hayes Tang of the University of Hong Kong describes as ‘the discontent of Hong Kongers that mainlanders enjoy the benefits at the expense of Hong Kong taxpayers’.

‘Culturally, the different habits of mainlanders and Hong Kong residents also pose some ‘cultural shock’ to Hong Kongers, whose public space has been transformed due to the large number of mainland tourists and migrants in Hong Kong,’ he adds.

In Japan for instance, where only 1.5 per cent of the 128 million population are foreigners, the latter enjoy privileges similar to the locals. Foreigners can enrol in the national medical insurance scheme and pay only 30 per cent of medical bills, just like the Japanese. They are also allowed to buy property of any sort, even land.

China, which also has minuscule benefits for its 600,000 foreigners, is also mulling over giving them more, as part of overall efforts to attract foreign talent. In April, a Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security spokesman said it will provide ‘effective social security to an increasing number of foreigners who stay permanently and enable them to enjoy equal treatment’. He did not give details.

A Hong Kong Research Centre for Pearl River Delta Environment

Sino-Forest Applied Research Centre for Pearl River Delta Environment is a newly established research centre in the Hong Kong Baptist University aiming to improve the environmental quality of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region.

It will create a platform for various stakeholders in Hong Kong and PRD to tackle the trans-boundary pollution problem at source, advocate the governments on environmental policy and provide solutions for the industry in the PRD region.

Research works of Sino-Forest ARCPE will concentrate in the following areas: (1) Environmental performance of the PRD industry, (2) Environmental policy and community environmental education promotion, (3) Waste treatment and recycling, and (4) Environmental monitoring and control.

Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City

New Book

Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City
Stephen Chiu and Tai-Lok Lui

This new addition of the Routledge “Asia’s Transformations” series examines the developmental history of Hong Kong, focusing on its rise to the status of a Chinese global city in the world economy. The chapters contain 1. Global Connections: Centre of Chinese Capitalism 2. An Industrial Colony 3. The Building of An International Financial Centre 4. A Divided City 5. Decolonization, Political Restructuring, and Post-Colonial Governance Crisis 6. The Return of the Regional and the National 7. A Chinese Global City? … Read more

Taipei sweats brain-drain as China opens doors

Taipei sweats brain-drain as China opens doors
Quoted from The Malaysian Insider, July 29, 2009

TAIPEI, July 14 — Will Taiwan’s brightest make a beeline for top universities across the Strait, now that mainland China has opened its doors more widely?

This is an emerging concern in Taiwan after Beijing announced, at a high-level cross-strait forum over the weekend, that top Taiwanese students could now get a place in China’s universities without having to take China’s college-entry exam.

Taiwanese students who aced the island’s own exams could be admitted into China’s universities from as early as next month. …Read more

Education Hub in Pearl River Delta

City University’s Shenzhen Applied R&D Centres

The City University of Hong Kong has extended its research platform to the PRD through the establishment of applied R&D centres in Shenzhen since 2001. In so doing, the University aims to capitalize on the respective strengths of the PRD and Hong Kong, hoping to contribute to the economic development of both areas. The centres will tap into the talents, facilities and opportunities for commercialization of research outputs available on the Mainland and will help strengthen our collaboration with sister universities, research institutes and business enterprises there. Their overall objectives include developing of advanced technologies, offering training to research staff and students, providing consulting services and commercializing research results.

CUHK Shenzhen Research Institute

CUHK Shenzhen Research Institute, the first research base to be established in the mainland by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is sited at Shenzhen Virtual University Science Park. On completion at the end of 2010, the 25,000 square meters building of the Institute would serve as a research and training center, providing various degree and non-degree courses in the fields of engineering, management and health care. The Institute will become a centre for collaborative projects with Shenzhen companies, enabling research achievements to be transformed into products.

In its Strategic Plan 2006, five major research areas have been selected and the University strives to complement this breadth of scholarship with focus on them. Two State Key Laboratories had been set up since 2006; two new research institutes will be established in Shenzhen by CUHK.

The HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute

The HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute (SRI) was established in April 2001 as the representative office of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in Shenzhen. The University is among the first group of 38 universities that were invited to join the Shenzhen Virtual University Park. Other member universities include top universities in Mainland China, such as Peking University and Tsinghua University etc. SRI assists in the University’s student recruitment efforts in Mainland China, and provides liaison, project management related and other services to the companies and laboratories of HKUST. It serves as the local liaison office of HKUST in Shenzhen to facilitate communication with government departments and other relevant units.

Links to:
Shenzhen Virtual University Park

Macao and the British, 1637-1842: Prelude to Hong Kong

New Book

Macao and the British, 1637-1842: Prelude to Hong Kong
Austin Coates 

“This study vividly introduces the general reader to historic Macau, once ‘the outpost of all Europe in China’ and foothold to East India Company officials and private merchants trading in Canton.” – Clive Willis, Emeritus Professor of Portuguese Studies, University of Manchester and author of China and Macau

Opening with a vivid description of the first English voyage to China in 1637. Macao and the British traces the ensuing course of Anglo-Chinese relations, during which time Macao skillfully – and without fortifications – escaped domination by the British and Chinese. The account covers the opening of regular trade by the East India Company in 1770, including the ‘country’ trade between India and China and Britain’s first embassies to Peking, and relates the bedeviling effect of the opium trade. The story culminates in the resulting war from which Britain won, as part of its concessions, the obscure island of Hong Kong. Among those who feature in this lucid and lively account are the merchant princes Jardine and Matheson, the missionary Robert Morrison, the artist George Chinnery, and Captain Charles Elliot, Hong Kong’s maligned founder. …Read More

Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Challenge of National Unification

Suzanne Pepper published an article on Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Challenge of National Unification in the July 2009 issue of the Hong Kong Journal. Click here for the link to the article.