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Chinese province raises fines on wealthy flouters of family planning laws
2007-09-29 06:57:06 Xinhua English

CHANGSHA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- A central China province where almost 2,000 officials and celebrities have been exposed for breaking the country's family planning laws is to raise fines on wealthy couples who have unauthorized children.

The Standing Committee of Hunan Provincial People's Congress, the local legislative body, adopted an amendment of local family planning regulations on Saturday, which imposes a standard fine equal to two to six times the offenders' incomes for the previous year.

Offenders will be fined three times their annual income -- on top of the standard fine -- for each child after the first unauthorized birth. Those who had an illegitimate child would face an additional fine six to eight times of the income of the previous year, according to the amendment.

Local family planning authorities have said that the current penalties are too low for well-off people.

The current regulations in Hunan, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2003, impose a fine equal to double the offenders' incomes for the previous year and triple for every child after the first unauthorized birth.

In addition, the amended regulations stipulate that the offenders will not be employed by governmental departments, be barred from promotion in governmental organizations and state-owned businesses, and be granted any honorary title.

At least 1,968 officials in Hunan were found breaching the nation's family planning law between 2000 and 2005, according to the provincial family planning commission.

Also exposed by the commission were 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112 entrepreneurs and six senior intellectuals.

A national lawmaker identified by his surname Li was keeping four mistresses, with whom he had four children.

Provincial governor Zhou Qiang in April asked local authorities to "expose the celebrities and high-income people who violate the family planning policy and have more than one child."

The move has also been adopted in east China's Zhejiang Province, and in central China's Henan Province, the nation's most populous region. Officials belonging to the Communist Party of China will be barred from promotion if they have more children than the law allows.

China's family planning policy, which encourages late marriage and late child-bearing, limits most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two, has been credited with preventing more than 400 million births since it was introduced in the late 1970s to curb population growth.

The policy was upgraded to the Population and Family Planning Law in December 2001 at the 25th session of the Ninth National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the law came into effect in September 2002.

A survey conducted by the national family planning commission showed that the majority of celebrities and rich people have two children, with 10 percent of them having three.

In Hunan, officials estimate 30 million births have been prevented due to the policy. As the seventh most populous province in China, the Hunan provincial government has vowed to keep its population within 70.1 million by 2010.

As early as 2002, China's southern Guangdong Province pioneered measures to control the high birth rate among rich urban families. Offenders have to pay a fine equal to three to six times the local average annual income.

The Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and 10 other departments jointly issued a circular on Sept. 14, stipulating that Chinese government officials and Communist Party members will be barred from promotion if they have more children than the law allows.

"Obeying the family planning policy will be taken as a fundamental standard for the promotion of cadres, the election of deputies to Party congresses, people's congresses, and political advisors at all levels," the circular says.

It would also be a criterion for the selection of model workers and other exemplary individuals, according to the circular.

"A supervision mechanism will be established to check the family status of officials and Party members," it says.

Local personnel departments are required to record the names of Party members and officials who break the law.

A reward system would be established to encourage the public to report law-breaking Party members and officials, the circular says.

Party members who broke the rules would receive disciplinary punishment as well as fines in accordance with relevant regulations.

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