RFA Wins Gracie for Exposé on ‘Birth Tourism’ in Saipan


WASHINGTON – Radio Free Asia (RFA) has won a Gracie Award for its Cantonese Service’s exposé, “Born in the USA: Instant Citizenship in Saipan,” in the category of investigative program or feature. Sponsored by the Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), the annual Gracies recognize exemplary media and entertainment programming created by women and focused on issues relating to women.

“We are thrilled to win a Gracie again this year among so many respected colleagues in journalism,” said Libby Liu, President of RFA. “Women’s stories and stories that affect women are an important part of Radio Free Asia’s coverage every day.

“This award continues to inspire us at RFA to produce exceptional programming that makes an impact on women’s lives throughout Asia.”

For RFA’s winning entry, Cantonese Service journalist Vivian Kwan investigated the cottage industry of “birth tourism” in the U.S. territory of Saipan, an island in the western Pacific. Since the U.S. government waived the visa for Chinese tourists to visit the Northern Mariana Islands, which include Saipan, near-term Chinese women have been going there in great numbers. If they give birth during their stay, the mothers bypass Beijing’s one-child policy and can take advantage of instant U.S. citizenship status for their newborns.

Kwan posed as an expectant mother and contacted two Chinese travel agencies to learn about the 11,000 USD packages that include accommodations, meals, documentation, hospital booking, an interpreter, and a driver. Excluded is the medical coverage, which can run up to 12,000 USD. Between 2010 and 2012, births attributed to Chinese tourists increased by 60 percent. The local government of the one-hospital island has requested that the federal government impose tighter border controls.

RFA, along with other winners this year, will be recognized at the 39th annual Gracies Gala on May 20 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Winners this year include ABC News, CNN, NBC Nightly News, and Al Jazeera America, among others.

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