Chinese birth tourists: debate boils over (月子中心)

Birth tourists at Costco in Industry

In Chinese they are known as 月子中心 (roughly translated that’s the month of the center). Essentially these locations cater to a Chinese tradition that requires confinement of pregnant women immediately before (and for a month after) they give birth. The classier places offer a variety of services.

For the women who participate, the goal is to have a child who is a U.S. citizen, thus afforded a passport and citizenship exemptions at the best universities.

Neighbors don’t like the centers so much. They bring noise, traffic and trash problems.

Nonetheless birthing centers are legal and have been in the news for quite some time.

Attached is a photo I took of women enrolled at a Rowland Heights birthing center who were shopping at Costco in Industry.

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Beijing man with ties to Hacienda Heights appears in federal court

This from a United States Department of Justice press release:

The vice president of a Hacienda Heights company made his initial appearance in federal court this afternoon after being arrested over the weekend on charges of exporting high-tech integrated circuits to China in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). 

William Chai-Wai Tsu, 61, a resident of Beijing, was taken into custody by federal agents Saturday afternoon at the Commerce Casino. According to court documents, Tsu illegally shipped at least 200 of the sophisticated integrated circuits to China. At this afternoon’s hearing, a United States Magistrate Judge scheduled Tsu’s formal arraignment for February 2. Tsu will remain in federal custody pending a bond hearing Thursday. If convicted of the export violation alleged in a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the naturalized U.S. citizen faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Federal investigators executed a search warrant Saturday morning at a Hacienda Heights home Tsu allegedly used to receive business-related shipments and correspondence for a company called Cheerway, Inc. During the search, agents seized computer equipment, financial documents and other suspected controlled items believed to be linked to the case. 

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Locals suspected of sending illegal exports to China

This from a U.S. Justice Department press release:

Sam Ching Sheng Lee, Part-Owner and Chief Operations Manager of Multimillion Business Associate Corporation (“MBA”), and his nephew, Charles Yu Hsu Lee, made initial appearances in United Stated District Court in Los Angeles today on federal charges related to a conspiracy to procure and illegally export sensitive technology to the People’s Republic of China.
        Sam Lee, 63, native of China, and Charles Lee, 31, native of Taiwan, were arrested on Tuesday morning in Hacienda Heights, California.  Both men are charged in an indictment filed on December 16, 2008, and unsealed today with felony counts of conspiracy and exporting national security controlled items without a license in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Export Administration Regulations.        
        The indictment alleges that Sam Lee and Charles Lee, doing business as MBA, an import/export business located in Hacienda Heights, assisted persons in China to illegally procure export controlled thermal-imaging cameras.  During the period between April 2002 and July 2007, defendants allegedly exported a total of ten thermal-imaging cameras to China in circumvention of export laws.  After being advised of strict export restrictions, Charles Lee allegedly purchased the cameras from U.S. suppliers for approximately $9,500 a piece by withholding the fact that the devices were destined to China.  His uncle, Sam Lee, then received the devices and through his Hacienda Heights company, arranged for their shipment to Shanghai, China without obtaining proper licenses.  One of the recipients is alleged to be an employee of a company in Shanghai engaged in the development of infrared technology.       
        The thermal-imaging cameras are controlled for export to China by the Department of Commerce for national security and regional stability reasons because of their use in a wide variety of military and civilian applications.  At no time did Sam Lee or Charles Lee have authorization in the form of a license from the Department of Commerce to export the thermal-imaging cameras to China.
        “Combating the illegal flow of highly sensitive U.S. technology to foreign countries is vital to our national security, ” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien.  “The multi-agency efforts leading to the arrests in this case demonstrate our unyielding dedication to aggressively prosecute those who engage in such conduct.”     
        If convicted, both men face a maximum statutory penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

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