Poor Man Perplexes Chinese Officials


IMAGE: Xinhuanet.com


JIANGSU, China--Jiangsu resident Liu Xiangming presents Family Planning Officials with an interesting dilemma. Liu has broken the law, but officials don’t know how to punish him. What was his crime? Having 10 children in a country where he is only allowed to have one.


Normally, this crime would be punished with a fine several times the amount of Liu’s income. However, Liu and his family are so poor that any fine would be impossible to pay and therefore would be meaningless. Officials now have to decide how to penalize Liu for his extra children.


Liu makes his living collecting scraps in Suzhou.  His large family lived undisturbed for years until his seventh child drowned in a nearby pond and the story drew media attention. Only Liu’s first child was eligible for a hukou residence permit, so only the oldest is legally entitled to education and health care. None of Liu’s children are well-educated.


All 10 of Liu’s children were born in broken down shacks. Liu delivered them himself using a piece of broken pottery that he sterilized in alcohol and used to cut the umbilical cord. His two oldest children work in factories while the others remain at home with their mother.


Now officials have to decide if they will ignore Liu’s case or find a creative way to punish his family--a family that is already suffering from poverty and lack of education.


Families all over China have struggled with One-Child Policy fines for the past three decades. Recently, famous film director Zhang Yimou received the largest fine ever given for violating the One-Child Policy. Fortunately for affluent Zhang, he was able to simply pay the 7.48 million yuan ($1.2 billion) to the government and move on.


Most families cannot get rid of these fines so easily, however. Father-of-four Wang Guangrong recently committed suicide after his “over-quota” children were denied an education and he was slapped with an unpayable fine. Wang is not the first to kill himself because of these fines either. In December 2013, 45-year-old farmer Ai Guangdong committed suicide because he could not pay his 60,000 yuan ($9,882) fine for having four daughters and one son.


The Chinese government calls these One-Child Policy fines “social support fees”. This money is intended to make up for the resources that the extra child will suck from society. If you don’t pay the social support fee, your child cannot receive a hukou residence permit--a permit that entitles the child to healthcare, education, and travel. Because not having a hukou affects all areas of a child’s life, parents are desperate to pay their fines. Some have even tried selling their own organs to pay the fees.


China’s system for levying these fines is messy. There are some broad guidelines for the fines, but they are vague. Ultimately, it is up to local officials to decide the exact amount a family will be fined, and this is usually done on a case-by-case basis. According to The Atlantic, Family Planning Officials often get incentives for imposing these fines, so they do not hesitate to collect vast sums of money from poor families. Some officials even knowingly permit second children to be born so they can then fine the family and profit from it.


What is even more shady is how China spends the fine money. In 2012, China collected more than $2.7 million in fines, yet refused to publicize how the money was spent.


How can China impose these life-altering fines on its citizens yet not disclose how that hard-earned money is spent? In Liu’s case, this question is not even relevant because he knows he could never pay the sum the government wants.


Liu’s situation may be a good opportunity for China to recognize how cruel and unfair its fine system is. According to the South China Morning Post, heavy fines only lead to more corruption and injustice. It’s time for China to clean up its financial records and stop punishing families for bringing new life into the world.


We pray that officials will leave Liu’s family alone, but we also hope that this story will lead other people to act out against this unjust system. God abhors dishonesty and oppression, and he will not let His precious people be trampled under the weight of injustice.


“The Lord detests dishonest scales,

 but accurate weights find favor with him.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

   but with humility comes wisdom.

The integrity of the upright guides them,

   but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,

   but righteousness delivers from death.

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,

   but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.” -Proverbs 11:1-5, NIV


By Emilie, All Girls Allowed


All Girls Allowed (http://www.allgirlsallowed.org) was founded by Chai Ling in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and revealing the injustice of the One-Child Policy.  “In Jesus’ Name, Simply Love Her.”


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