Beijing to fine celebrities who break 'one child' rule

2008-01-20 21:53:47 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Beijing will impose fines on celebrities who violate the one-child rule that will be much higher than for common citizens, a senior family planning official said on Sunday.

"Celebrities and wealthy people would be more heavily fined forgiving birth to more than one child. The commission is still deliberating on the amount of the penalty," Deng Xingzhou, head of the Beijing Municipal Commission on Family Planning, told a meeting of the municipal political advisory body.

The stereotype of a "one-child rule" violator is that of a farmer who wants more sons to bear the family financial burdens. But in recent years, more celebrities such as film and sports stars have faced media criticism over the size of their families.

Media reports said that Hao Haidong, a football star, was fined 50,000 yuan (about 6,850 U.S. dollars) for having a second child. His annual salary is 5 million yuan, one of the highest for a football player in China.

Couples can potentially be fined up to 10 times the local per capita income, although actual fines are often lower. In Beijing, for example, the per capita annual income for urban residents was 21,989 yuan in 2007. Sources said that the fine in Beijing now is around 100,000 yuan.

Fines collected by district-level family planning commissions vary from person to person and place to place. Media reports often speculate on the penalties imposed on celebrities.

A joint survey conducted by China Youth Newspaper and QQ.com found that 44.6 percent of 7,917 respondents said that celebrities and the affluent could afford to breach the rule, regardless of the fine, and 61.1 percent said this was unfair.

"Celebrities and well-off people should not have any privileges for having more children," Zhang Weiqing, director of the State Commission on Family Planning, told a meeting in Guangdong Province last year.

He said he believed that the number of celebrities who have more than one child was not very large, but because of their fame, their behavior has a negative social influence.

The Beijing commission also plans to write family planning violation records into the celebrities' personal files in the national credit system. This could affect their ability to borrow.

China's one-child policy has been in effect for more than three decades. The policy limits most couples to one child in urban areas and two in rural regions, and it has prevented an estimated 400 million births. (One U.S. dollar equals 7.4 yuan.)