02/08/2007, 00.00
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Fines not enough, China resorts to public shaming to enforce one-child policy

The policy includes heavy fines for couples with second child, but the rich and famous are not frightened by the prospect of paying. Zhejiang province now plans to increase fines and release the names of violators.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An official in Zhejiang said that his province plans to name and shame rich families who ignore the country's strict one-child policy and simply pay the fine for having a second or third baby. Zhang Wenbiao, head of the family planning commission in Zhejiang province, announced on Wednesday that his agency was going to expose a few such cases in the near future.

The government recently revealed that its one-child policy is respected by only 35.9 per cent of the population. Taking into account the exceptions that the law allows—farmers and ethnic minorities—violators of the law are subject to hefty fines, often based on family incomes but averaging 50,000 yuan (US$ 6,200), an amount that has not put off rich couples.

In fact the policy has had an impact only on poor families and this has lead to a great deal of social resentment, said Zhang.

In a survey published in January by the Communist Party daily China Youth Daily, 68 per cent of the respondents said that this privilege for the rich was “unfair”.

For this reason the provincial government in Zhejiang raised fines and decided that it will out some families. Yet some families paid up to a million yuan to have another child.

China's family planning policy—implemented in the late 1970s—limits urban couples to one child and rural families to two to control the population and conserve natural resources.

The government last month said that although a recent survey showed that about 60 per cent of Chinese people would prefer to have two children, there were no plans to relax the policy.

The policy has however created a skewed male-to-female ratio because many couples resort to selective abortion to have a boy.

The latest data indicate that in 2005 there were 117 males for 100 females. In some provinces this ratio was 130 to 100.

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