A group of parents with two-child families protested outside the family planning commission building in China calling for their second child fines canceled. The uproar is in response to a new policy allowing parents to have as many children as they please, which the protesters see as rendering the expensive fees obsolete and unfair.
Beginning at some point this year, all Chinese couples are allowed to have multiple children after thirty-five years of limiting most families to one. Some rural families were allowed to have two children if the first child was a girl.
Families with more than one child were required to pay a social compensation fee, according to the Associated Press, which was often unaffordable. Some authorities responded to the refusal to pay fines by neglecting to register the child unless the parents paid, despite national orders banning this practice. An unregistered child has less opportunity for education, healthcare, and other benefits, meaning that parents who couldn’t afford the steep charge would be dooming their child to a difficult life.
According to Julia Glum of the International Business Times, 14 million people were found to be unregistered in China’s 2010 census. At the end of 2013, the country had a total of 1.37 billion people, reports Reuters.
After an unspecified date in 2016, the one-child policy will no longer be enforced. Parents will be able to “independently arrange childbearing” without applying for approval, which differs from statements made in October. Previously, the Chinese government said that parents would still have to apply for approval to expand their families.
The recent protests outside the national family planning offices on Tuesday were parents of children who were never registered due to outstanding fines.
The slogan on one banner read:
They are all our motherland’s flowers and should not be treated differently.
Louise Watt of the Associated Press quoted protester Wan Changru:
Now that every couple can have two children, all kids should be treated equally, no matter whether they were born before or after the policy change.
Wan also said that the police did not come to break up the protest despite being called by security.
This is totally different to what happened before, as dozens of police would come to stop us in the past.
Wan and her husband have been in the news since December when they filed a lawsuit to register their daughter without paying fees that amounted to 45,677 yuan, or $7,000. She said:
I simply cannot afford to pay such a large sum of money.
Attorney Wu Youshi said that the fines have brought in $8 billion per year for the government, but could not ascertain what the money was being used for. He said:
[It’s] legally unreasonable and morally wrong. It is inhumane, but officials do it because it makes it easier for them to raise money.