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tram in Hong Kong

Photo by Alison Pang on Unsplash

Early this year, shortly after China lifted strict “zero-Covid” measures that had kept it isolated for three years of the pandemic, Lydia Huang headed across the border to Hong Kong to do something she felt couldn’t wait any longer.

“Finally got to freeze my eggs,” Huang, 38, a financial professional from Shanghai, wrote on social media this spring. “It was what I had always dreamed of.”

Egg freezing has become a growing topic of discussion in China, where officials alarmed by the country’s first population decline in six decades are trying to boost the birth rate even as young people are increasingly putting off marriage and childbearing or avoiding it altogether. 

But unmarried women like Huang are legally barred from undergoing the procedure in mainland China, prompting some to do it elsewhere at a much greater cost in a bid to extend their reproductive window. 

After posting about her experience, Huang said, she received a flood of messages from women asking for advice or sharing their own experiences.

“I had over 10 people...