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
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 I¡¯m 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.