Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Higher Fines for Violation of One-Child Policy

From China Daily last month:

Beijing authorities will also introduce measures later this year that include greater penalties for those who break family planning rules requiring most couples to have one child.

"As the public feels strongly against those who have more children just because they can afford to pay the fines, we are thinking of collecting much higher social maintenance fees from those who go against the policy," Deng said.

In Beijing, the fine for those who break family planning rules is computed based on the average income per capita, usually about three to eight times of that figure. The per capita income in the capital was 24,725 yuan ($3,600) for urban residents and 10,747 yuan for rural residents last year, official figures showed.

To date, Guangdong and Hubei provinces have taken the lead in the country to impose expensive fines on violators of family planning rules. In 2007, an entrepreneur from Xiaochang county of Hubei was fined 760,000 yuan for having a second child.

The article also quotes Deng Xingzhou, chief of Beijing's family planning commission, as saying that "family planning as a fundamental national policy will exist for another 20 years."


Anonymous said...

I have a co-worker who is originally from Beijing, now a US citizen with 2 kids. He goes home to visit every few years, and I asked him whether it seems strange to his family and friends in Beijing that he has 2 children. He said no, and that everyone he knows there has 2 or more kids. I can't quite reconcile his view of Beijing with articles like this, and with what I thought I knew about China and the one child policy. All I can think is that he must move in very different circles than the average Beijing family.

Wendy said...

The issue does not boil down to having a punishment, it is the type of punishment involved. The wealthy (and yes there are a lot of very wealthy people) can easily pay the fines, the poor cannot. The rich can afford abortions and medical treatments preventing many birth issues, the poor cannot.

If a country is going to impose birth limitations (I am not going to argue the issue of whether or not the one/two child policy should exist) then they need to have equality in how and when punishments are given and also providing some sort of equality in that punishment. If you have the money it is not an issue to break a law and just pay the fine--also considering you do not have the same motivations for ending a pregnancy and/or eventually abandoning if necessary for the family--whatever that reason which we are seeing is more related to medical expenses than anything else.

At the point the middle class is also able to pay the fines involved, it is primarily a rural and migrant worker punishment as they do not have the resources to pay fines and also tend to come from areas where additional children are needed/wanted to help with running farms, etc.

As I am told, most city dwellers do not see the need for more than one child and those who have more see having more than one as a status symbol (I am NOT saying that they do not want to add to their families because they want more children; of course that is the primary motivation). I am just looking at general attitudes. The one/two child policy is clearly not as enforced in many cities and provinces as it is in others, not to mention the reason for the varied enforcement.

The govt will need to strongly enforce and equally enforce (with equal punishments using %'s rather than exact fees, etc) or they will face uprise from the rural population where enforcement is hitting the hardest. It is the old argument--have's vs have not's and the priviledges or lack their of depending on what side you are on--sadly it seems the middle class is always the complacent group trying to act like the rich while doing anything to not join the ranks of the poor--that includes taking on the upper class attitudes and admonishing the poor ones.