© unknown
A woman has admitted arranging for mainland Chinese women to give birth in Hong Kong, reports said Saturday, the first prosecution of its kind as the southern city cracks down on the practice.

The Chinese city has been struggling with an influx of tens of thousands of mainland women who come to Hong Kong each year to give birth, to gain residency rights for their children and to circumvent China's one-child policy

Local women have taken to the streets to protest at the influx, which critics say has led to a shortage of maternity beds in hospitals. The outcry has prompted the government to step up enforcement.

Mainland woman Xu Li, 29, was charged in a Hong Kong magistrates' court on Friday for her role as a "birth agent", according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and Apple Daily newspapers.

Xu was arrested at a Hong Kong-China border checkpoint on January 15 as she was about to enter the city while accompanying a heavily pregnant mainland woman.

The court was told Xu started helping pregnant mainlanders in 2010.

She helped arrange pre-natal check-ups in Hong Kong, book delivery services and hostels, and arrange care for the women and their babies following the births.

She reportedly charged from several hundred to several thousand yuan to help a pregnant mainlander give birth.

Xu pleaded guilty to one count of breaching her conditions of stay, which bars her from carrying out business activities. The case was adjourned to Monday.

Court officials could not be reached for comment by AFP.

Mainland women have taken to wearing baggy clothes to disguise their pregnancy bumps as they seek to enter Hong Kong, or renting flats in the city in the early stages of pregnancy to avoid detection, according to reports.

The influx of mainland women has been a major source of recent tensions between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese, 15 years after the British colony was returned to Chinese rule.

Hong Kong has maintained a semi-autonomous status.