Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One-Child Policy Partially Relax...

...In The Aftermath of the Earthquake

In response to inquiries form grieving relatives, the Chengdu Population and Family Committee in Sichuan Province announced that parents whose only child was killed or grievously injured on the May 12 earthquake would be exempt from the country’s one-child policy. The qualified parents could apply for legal permission to have another child.

If a couple’s legally born child was killed in the earthquake, an illegal child under 18 years could be registered as a legal replacement. If the dead child was illegal, it said the family would no longer be responsible for outstanding fines, although parents would not be reimbursed for penalties already paid. The new regulation promises an annual allowance of 600 yuan (US$85) to parents over 50 years of age whose only child was killed or seriously disabled by the earthquake

The one-child policy, known in Chinese as the “birth plan”, was introduced in 1979 to control population growth. The existing rules allow for exceptions to the strict one-child rule only if the parents are from ethnic minority groups or if they are rural families where the first-born is a girl. The children of those who defy the rules are sometimes denied government benefits, including access to a free education. Since early 2000, urban couples where both husband and wife were born as single children were also allowed to apply for a permission to have a second child. In 2002 it was ruled that the policy is applied to ethic Han Chinese only.

The incentives vary by region, but often a couple with just one child will get more land, a better house, a reduction in grain taxes and a subsidy amounting to about $15 a year -equivalent to more than a month's income for many poor peasants. On the other hand, those who have children without permission must pay fines annually for 10 years, amounting each time to 5 to 10 percent of the parents' income. In urban area where celebrities and rich people often violate the family planning policy by having multiple babies. In some cases the fines have reached over $100,000, resulting in having many children as being a status symbol. Last year East china’s Zhejiang Province announces that they will expose people who violate the policy.