Reuters, September 15, 2007
BEIJING (Reuters) - Rich Chinese people who flout the country's family planning policies, which usually limit couples to one child, will face higher fines under tougher new enforcement guidelines, state media said on Saturday.
The China Daily said the move to assess fines in line with the violator's income came in response to widespread concern that current fines did not serve as enough of a deterrent to the well-off, essentially allowing them to treat the fines as a fee for having more than one child.
The new measures, issued by the National Population and Family Planning Commission and 10 other agencies, single out the elite as needing to play their part in controlling the country's population.
"(Communist) Party members, cadres and social public figures should take the lead in following the population and family planning regulations," the paper quoted the statement as saying, threatening strict punishments for public figures who violate the rules.
Violators could also see their credit ratings damaged, the paper said -- a serious threat in a society where people are increasingly taking out loans to buy homes and cars, and where banks are often prodded by authorities to restrict lending to certain groups or companies in line with policy aims.
China credits family planning laws with preventing 400 million births and thereby boosting prosperity in a country that now has 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world's total.
The move had also contributed to the fight against global warming as it helped avert billions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions, a senior official said last month.
But the policy has also exacerbated a gender imbalance, where access to ultrasound tests and gender-selective abortions have resulted in there being 118 boys born for every 100 girls, potentially threatening social stability as more men have difficulty finding wives.
State media have increasingly reported on cases of officials, tycoons and entertainment stars having more than one child, and a number of provinces have moved to step up fines for breaking family planning rules.
The provincial parliament of central Hunan province in July began discussing a draft amendment to local family planning regulations that would raise fines to as high as eight times the violator's annual income.
Hunan had discovered earlier that nearly 2,000 officials and celebrities had breached the policy between 2000 and 2005, including a lawmaker who had four children by four mistresses.
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