Suspicious dads prompt paternity test trend
Requests by men for paternity testing in China have been increasing in recent years, with suspicious husbands doubting whether their wives have been faithful, according to Chinese centres that provide DNA testing.
The Paternity Test Centre of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital made more than 200 paternity checks last year, a 30 per cent increase over 2003, a centre staffer said.
The centre, the city's unique hospital-run paternity test centre, received just a dozen clients when it was founded in 2001.
The DNA test cases increased more rapidly in prosperous economic zones, such as in South China's Guangdong Province, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
News reports indicated that the People's Hospital in Shenzhen, a city neighbouring Hong Kong, conducted more than 1,000 DNA tests last year. About half of the cases involved Hong Kong residents.
The number was a 50 per cent annual increase, staff with the hospital said.
Experts say comedies and tragedies happen every day at paternity test centres across the country, such as a heart-broken wife bursting into tears while her husband was recognized as the father of an extra-martial child, or a husband getting angry because of his wife's infidelity.
An well-known paternity test in Beijing, for example, proved that former football star Gao Feng is the father of a 3-year-old boy from a previous relationship.
It was reported that the footballer was urged to pay alimony to the child's mother, Wang Nawen, a bar owner in Shenyang, capital city of Northeast China's Liaoning Province.
The footballer's current girlfriend, the famous pop singer, Na Ying, gave birth to a baby late last year, which is also believed to be his. Gao has not disputed he is the father of Na's child.
A medical specialist surnamed Fan from the Beijing paternity test centre said her centre has received people from all walks of life and of different ages.
The centre has been strictly keeping secret the personal information of its clients who can make DNA checks anonymously.
Thanks to the introduction of high-tech equipment, paternity tests have become easier and more accurate than before, Fan said.
A common DNA test in the centre costs 2,400 to 3,600 yuan (US$290-435) and the results come out within two weeks.
DNA is the genetic material in the cells of human being. Every person's DNA is unique except for identical twins. Since it is so specific, just like a fingerprint, DNA paternity testing is the most powerful form of testing, Fan said.
Scientists magnify the DNA in the samples several million times, making them large enough to reveal hereditary information. By comparing samples, it can be determined, based on certain hereditary principles, if a blood relationship exists between the samples.
DNA paternity testing can be performed when the mother is not available.
Generally speaking, the paternity testing falls into two categories -- for civil purposes and for criminal investigations.
A paternity test centre is commonly authorized by judicial departments or public security departments and supervised by the Ministry of Health.
Experts attribute the growth of civil paternity testing to traditional ideas that require chastity and complete loyalty from women. Especially after China applied the one-child policy, a child found to be illegitimate may bring disastrous consequences.
"Increasing numbers of people taking the test suggests that social views on women's status and rights is still confined to bearing babies," said Chen Fan, a secretary in a real estate enterprise.