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Big broods an uphill fad among nouveaux riches
Updated: 2005-12-15 11:51

China's nouveaux riches are not only competing to buy ostentatious mansions and expensive cars, but they are also competing to have more children - big broods a traditional and revived status symbol.

Wealthy urbanites just pay the fines for extra children - beyond the one child allowed by law. They can afford extra children and world-class education for them. But for years, having many children was deplored as a violation of family planning policy.

Population experts say fines should be increased and violators should be charged a proportion of their annual income - not a flat fee per child.

The rush among the well-off and wealthy to propagate is a throwback to traditional values - a large family was said to bring more wealth, status and happiness.

The one-child family policy was enacted in the 1970s to curb a population explosion. In 2002 the law was amended to allow ethnic minorities to have more than one child and peasants to have a second child if the first was a girl - hoping for a boy.

However, the waivers were never designed to allow city residents to have the option of having multiple babies.

Recent amendments imposed fines to prevent families from having more than one child. However, affluent people are now simply paying the "social maintenance fee" for a second child and subsequent children.

Business tycoons and entertainment celebrities are finding ways of getting around the one-child policy. Many simply pay the fine, which can be as high as 150,000 yuan (US$20,000) for urban dwellers or as low as 7,000 yuan for rural residents.

Some wealthy people are even emigrating for the sole purpose of having a second or third child whom they bring back to rear in China.

A young millionaire named Yu is fairly typical of those seeking to spread their seed. He already has two daughters and a son and yet dreams - and plans - to add another baby boy.

"I respect China's traditional culture and values so it is natural for me - I have both fame and fortune - to have a much larger family. This provides me with real integrity and value," he said.

Yu is already thinking about his family's future. "More children means more choices, and I will choose the most qualified heir to look after my family property," said Yu.

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