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New rich challenge family planning policy
Updated: 2005-12-14 11:21

China's 'nouveaux riches' are not only competing with each other to buy grandiose mansions and fast, expensive cars, their latest status symbol is a brood of children.

Quite a few of China's wealthy people are skirting China's one-child family policy by simply paying fines. 

The one-child family policy was enacted in the 1970's to curb a huge 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 their first is a girl. The changes did not lift the ban on urban dwellers to have multiple children.

The amendments imposed fines to prevent families from giving birth to more than one child. However, affluent people are now simply paying the 'social maintenance fee for a second and subsequent child.

A Beijing newspaper says it's a throw back to old attitudes that equates large families with wealth, status and happiness.

Business tycoons and show biz celebrities are finding a number of ways of getting around the one-child family policy. Many simply pay the fine which can be as high as 150,000 yuan or about $20,000 US dollars for urban dwellers or as low as 7,000 yuan or almost 900 US dollars for rural residents. Some wealthy people are even emigrating abroad for the sole purpose of having a second or third child whom they bring back to raise in China.

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

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

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

Traditional Chinese values say the greater the number of offspring brings greater happiness to a family. These values still run deep among wealthy merchants and entrepreneurs in China's economically dynamic regions.

"I already have three children and if I had three more Im still financially capable of raising them. I can offer them the best education," Yu proclaimed in confidence and contentment.

According to a survey by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), conducted by the China Youth Daily, nearly 40 percent of the respondents said they wanted to have a second child.

"Although many people cherish the dream of having more than one child, only a handful of the new rich can make the dream come true. How will this inequity affect working families psychologically?" asked Zhang Yi, a researcher with the CASS Research Institute of Population and Labor Economy.

Zhang believes the current social maintenance fee has become a passport for the wealthy to have more children and suggests the fee should be levied as a proportion of a family's actual income.

This view was echoed by Professor Zhang Fenggan with the Population Research Institute of the Guangzhou-based Zhongshan University.

Zhang said that publicity of the current family planning policy need to be improved and that fines for breaking the law should be increased.

With a polution of 1.2 billion, China is the most populous country in the world. Projections show its population will reach 1.33 billion by the end of 2005 and 1.6 billion in 2050.

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