What was the attitude of the Hong Kong government towards the migrants from the mainland?
Before mid-1970s Before WWII, people were free to travel across the border. In 1945, the population of HK was 600,000. At the end of 1950, the civil war in the mainland led to influx of migrants to Hong Kong. The population increased to 2.3 million. In 1950, the HK government unilaterally imposed restrictions due to the enormous inflow of people. PRC government protested on the ground that Hong Kong was part of China. Ultimately, an agreement was reached. Migrants approved by the mainland would be allowed to stay in Hong Kong, while the mainland government would set quotas on the number of migrants.
In 1962, another large-scale migration happened. The “Touch Base Policy” was introduced in 1974 － people who had reached the urban areas were allowed to stay. 6,000 people reached HK successfully every year at that time (1977). In 1978, another wave of illegal migration started. During the first eight months of 1980, 91,000 people came from the mainland. In Oct 1980, the Touch Base Policy was abolished since 450 people fled to HK every day.
Most of the migrants from the mainland during 1950s-1970s were young men coming from the coastal area of Guangdong province. They became cheap labour force at that time.
Touch Base Policy According to the Touch Base Policy implemented in November 1974, Hong Kong Government allowed the illegal migrants from the mainland to stay if they had reached the urban areas and met their HK relatives. Those who were intercepted at the boundary would be repatriated back to the mainland immediately. “Touch Base” is a term from softball.
In 1950, the HK government unilaterally imposed restrictions due to the enormous inflow of people. The PRC government protested on the ground that Hong Kong was part of China. Ultimately, an agreement was reached. Migrants approved by the mainland would be allowed to stay in Hong Kong, while the mainland government would set quotas on the number of migrants.
As the problem of illegal migrants was getting serious, the HK government decided to abandon the Touch Base Policy from 24 October, 1980. Illegal migrants who reached HK on or before 23 October 1980 were allowed to register for a Hong Kong identity card in a grace period of 3 days (24-26 October). Those arriving on or after 24 October were repatriated immediately. Repatriation Upon Arrest
In 1970s, a large number of illegal migrants fled to HK.
People lined up outside the Chinese Extension of Stay Section of the Immigration Department at Admiralty, waiting for the registration for ID Cards.
Police arresting illegal migrants along hill tracks.
In Nov 1974, a Senior Immigration Officer, riding on a government vehicle, sent the illegal migrants intercepted at the boundary back to the mainland for the first time.
HK Government Measure of Repatriation Upon Arrest October 1980 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZogUPS3 HBUk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZogUPS3 HBUk
Enacting new Ordinance against Illegal Migration The Government enacted ordinance to prohibit the employment of illegal migrants and employees with effect from 28 October 1980. In order to further deter illegal migration, laws were passes to require every person of age 15 or above and the holder of an identity card to carry the proof of his/her identity at all times, and to produce it for inspection when required. The measures imposed by the Immigration Department to combat illegal migrants were effective. The number of illegal migrants decreased dramatically.
Immigration officers often went to factories and construction sites for inspections to combat illegal migrants.
A poster produced by the Immigration Department, reminding the citizens to bring along valid proof of identity at all times.
Discussion topics: 1. Why did the HK government adopt the Touch Base Policy before 1980? ( Hint: consider the economic development in Hong Kong at that time) 2. Why did the HK government abandon the Touch Base Policy and adopt Repatriation Upon Arrest after 1980? (Hint: consider the problems brought by illegal migrants to HK at that time)
1. Why did the HK government adopt the Touch Base Policy before 1980? The attitude of the HK government towards the migrants from the mainland was open. Most of them were young males coming from the coastal area of Guangdong province. They were diligent and less demanding, thus providing cheap labour force to HK.
2. Why did the HK government abandon the Touch Base Policy and adopt Repatriation Upon Arrest after 1980? The government lost budget balance over the construction of public utilities due to the massive migrated population. During 1970s, the government planning was based on the assumption of 2% of population growth per year. However, between 1978 and1980, the population increased by 5% each year. Housing Problem: according to the Census of 1981, 700,000 people were still living in squatters and most of them were migrants who came to HK after 1976.
Social problem, law and order: Most migrants from the mainland were male. During 1980s and 1990s, the ratio of male to female was 4:1, and the men had difficulties in finding spouses. Some scholars believed that this was the cause for pornographic business in Portland Street. After 1990s, many men had to find spouses in the mainland. This led to a series of social problems.
Education problem: The influx of migrants into Hong Kong led to the shortage in number of schools and school places. Many children were deprived of the chance for education. In 1947, the government announced Grant Code to reinforce control over schools. Also, a Ten year Plan was proposed in 1950 to provide enough school places for children of the right age in 10 years. This plan was abandoned due to the change of regime in the mainland. Continuous population growth exerted great pressure on the supply of school places, premises and teachers.
In 1983, the mainland and HK government set a quota of 75 people as legal migrants from the mainland. In Nov 1993, the quota increased to 105. On 1 Jul 1995, the quota increased to 150. After 1980s, 80%-90% of migrants from the mainland were women and children who came for family re-union. After 1980s
Source: 黃洪博士（香港中文大學，社會工作學系助理教 授）， 3.2002 Hong Kong Immigration Department http://www.immd.gov.hk/40/chi/mil/80s/index.html http://www.immd.gov.hk/40/chi/mil/80s/index.html 亞洲電視新聞部資訊科《解密百年香港》； 香港： 明報出版社； 2007 。