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Cost of a second child: Pair fined 1.3m yuan

By Li Qian (Shanghai Daily)

08:16, May 31, 2012

A couple in eastern China's Zhejiang Province who violated China's family planning rules has been fined 1.3 million yuan (US$205,000), the biggest such penalty levied by authorities in the city of Ruian.

The couple gave birth to a daughter in February after having a son in 1995, Modern Express reported yesterday. Couples may have a second child under a few conditions, such as both spouses being from one-child families, or the first child has a non-inherited disease. In some provinces, rural couples are allowed to have a second child if their first child is a girl.

The couple did not qualify. They are wealthy operators of several companies across the nation, the paper said. Local regulations say the fine should be four to eight times the average annual income of local residents, and family planning authorities have flexibility in meting out penalties.

Since many violators are rich families in Ruian, they are given the maximum fines, local authorities said. Ruian is in the jurisdiction of Wenzhou, which boasts many wealthy entrepreneurs. Nearly half of Wenzhou's families have two kids, and more than a dozen couples have been fined more than 1 million yuan.

The previous record fine, 1.25 million yuan, was imposed in April.

The Chinese government adopted the family-planning policy in 1979 to rein in the growth rate of the world's largest population. China's large population imposes pressure on the nation's sustainable development and has become a bottleneck for China's competitiveness.

The gender imbalance, with many more boys born than girls, poses a big social problem. Changes in family structure, including smaller families and family members not living together, also challenge social management and public service.

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