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Rich 'Flaunt' One Child Law

Rich and powerful people are openly flouting the country family planning policy in central China's Hubei Province, after paying fines that are far from a deterrent for having more than one child, Hubei officials said.

Even when a sizable fine is issued, some violators are just too slow to pay, the Chutian Metropolis Daily reported.

Li Shaoqing, a county political adviser and chairman of a cement company in Xiaochang County, was ordered to pay 770,000 yuan (US$106,000), the biggest fine ever of its kind in Hubei but he has only paid 100,000 yuan (US$13,709.90) so far. Li had a second child in 2006.

The fines, listed by the government as social upbringing fees, are usually several times the annual disposable income of an urban citizen or net income of a rural resident.

"However, for those rich, the social upbringing fee ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of yuan is too trivial," Jiang Zhongsan, the policy director at the provincial population agency, said. "What's more, it's very hard to verify the income of some private businessmen."

In order to have another child some people remarry, keep mistresses or fake divorces.

The province punished 1,678 government and Party officials, business tycoons and public figures for violating the family planning policy in the past year, the newspaper said, quoting figures from the population agency.

Li was striped of his status as the county political adviser after the violation was discovered.

Of the 1,678 violators, 395 were removed from government posts, 1,091 were punished by Party discipline, 972 punished according to administrative regulations, three were sacked as local parliament members, and four lost their membership in the local political advisory body, the newspaper said. Some of them received several kinds of punishment simultaneously.

Authorities said they discovered some of the violations after being tipped off by whistleblowers. The provincial Population and Family Planning Commission has published a hotline for the public to report violations of the one child policy. The commission received more than 2,100 tip-offs and has awarded informants a total of 620,000 yuan (US$85,001.37).

The family planning law, in place since the late 1970s, allows most couples in China to have only one child. For most families, a second child is allowed only if the first one is confirmed to be disabled or both the husband and wife are only children.

(Shanghai Daily January 3, 2007)

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