Over 1,900 officials breach birth policy in C. China

Updated: 2007-07-08 16:11

As many as 1,968 officials in central China's Hunan Province have been found breaching the nation's one-child policy between 2000 and 2005, the provincial family planning commission said Friday.

Also exposed by the commission are 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and six senior intellectuals.

A national lawmaker identified by his surname as Li, were keeping four mistresses, with whom he had four children, a spokesman of the commission said.

Some officials who have had more than one child but had gone their way unnoticed during their tenure of leadership were exposed when they were investigated for corruption, he said.

"Three officials -- vice head of Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Xiangxi with the surname as Peng, vice mayor of Loudi City surnamed as Zhao, and vice mayor of Chenzhou City with the surname of Lei, who were all found to have kept extramarital mistresses, -- were all convicted for charges such as embezzlement and taking bribes, but they were not punished for having more than child," said the spokesman.

To curb population growth, China's family planning policy was enacted in the late 1970s to encourage late marriages and late childbearing, and it limited most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two.

The policy is credited with preventing more than 400 million births since it was introduced.

In Hunan, officials estimate 30 million births have been prevented due to the policy. As the 7th most populous province in China, the Hunan provincial government has vowed to keep its population within 70.1 million by 2010.

The policy was upgraded to the Population and Family Planning Law in December 2001 at the 25th session of the Ninth National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the law came into effect in September 2002.

However, there have been increasing reports of officials, tycoons and entertainment stars having more than one child over recent years, causing grave public concern.

"The fact that some localities which dare not give penalties in case of violating one-child policy or choose to deal with such cases leniently should be one of the main reasons for the trend," the Hunan commission spokesman said.

The Hunan provincial governor, Zhou Qiang, had in April ordered local authorities to "expose the celebrities and high-income people who violate the family planning policy and have more than one child."

The move has also been adopted in east China's Zhejiang Province, and in central China's Henan Province, the nation's most populous region,officials belonging to the Communist Party of China will be barred from promotion if they have more children than the law allows.

Meanwhile, Hunan and Zhejiang have greatly raised the fines imposed on violators of the one-child policy. In some cases, the fine could be as high as over one million yuan (130,000 U.S. dollars).

But heavy fines and exposures seemed to hardly stop the celebrities and rich people, as there are still many people, who can afford the heavy penalties, insist on having multiple kids, the Hunan commission spokesman said.

It is a problem yet to be resolved in China, and population experts have also proposed imposing moral denouncement on those people and enhance supervision by public opinion.

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