Hong Kong has seen a surge in arrivals of teenagers from the mainland under the so-called one-way permit scheme for immigrants, official data suggests.
Last year, 10,538 people aged between 10 and 19 entered Hong Kong from the mainland under the one-way permit scheme pertaining to Chinese immigrants, according to figures from Hong Kong’s Security Bureau.
The number marked a 100 percent jump from 2015, where there were 5,197 such new immigrants, and was also double the annual average of about 5,000 recorded between 2012 and 2015, Ming Pao Daily noted.
The Society for Community Organization (SCO), a non-governmental and human rights advocacy group in Hong Kong, attributed the increased arrivals to eased immigration policies from Beijing.
Since April 1, 2011, the Ministry of Public Security has been allowing Hong Kong residents to apply for one-way permits for their “overage children” in the mainland so that they can all live in Hong Kong as a family.
Sze Lai-shan, an organizer of SCO, said many of the “overage children” are in fact in their 30s and 40s and have their own descendants, who can later also come to settle in Hong Kong by following the same allocation procedures, Apple Daily reports.
As the trend looks unstoppable, Sze called on the government to communicate with Beijing to get details about the young immigrants from the mainland so that organizations like hers can provide better support to the new arrivals who often face difficulties in adjusting to the new environment.
Lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, on the other hand, urged the government to take back from Beijing the authority of issuing one-way permits, arguing that Hong Kong should have more control on immigrant flows.
Meanwhile, pro-establishment lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan said she was told that the number of students from the mainland has been increasing in some primary and secondary schools in New Territories.
The mainland pupils will encounter problems learning Cantonese and English, said Quat, calling on the government to provide extra resources as well as counseling services to help the students adjust to the new culture, Sing Tao Daily reports.
In response, the Home Affairs Bureau stressed that it will keep reviewing and improving its services for young immigrants from the mainland as before.
Asked in the Legislative Council as to how the mainland teenagers have been doing in Hong Kong since they came here, Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said no statistics in this regard have been prepared so far.
The Census and Statistics Department is set to release data about people who have lived in Hong Kong for less than 7 years by the middle of the year, Ming Pao quoted Lau as saying.
The official assured that various departments will act and render all possible assistance to new immigrants, including young people from the mainland, to help them blend into local community.
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