Chinese Government Raked in Billions in Fines From One-Child, Forced Abortion Policy

International   |   Reggie Littlejohn   |   Nov 23, 2015   |   7:19PM   |   Beijing, China

After killing two Chinese Family Planning Officials in a bloodbath two years ago, He Shenguo of Guangxi Province was executed on Thursday. Family Planning Officials had denied his fourth child registration, removing the child’s access to education or other social benefits for life.

The reason? Mr. He was unable to pay the fine for the “illegal” fourth child: about $40,269 — an astronomical fee for a man of his means.

This tragic story points to another reason why China will never abandon forced population control: it would mean losing billions each year in ill-gotten fines routinely levied to terrorize the Chinese people.

The fines, once known as “excess birth fines” then re-dubbed “social compensation fees,” are an important source of revenue arbitrary and inconsistently applied throughout China. These “terror fines” are regularly well above the average annual income in a given region, and may be as much as ten times a person’s salary. In high profile cases, the fines may run in the millions of dollars, as in the case of film director Zhang Yimou, who is reportedly liable for millions in fines, based on income.

Although superstars may have the luxury to pay these sums, the poor are not so lucky, and many find themselves with no way out. In the suicide cases of two Chinese farmers reported in 2013 and 2014, one cut his wrists and another drank poison because they were unable to pay a family planning fine.

A U.S. Government Commission in 2015 cited the case of a Shandong province couple detained with their 10-month-old baby in a hotel last year for failing to pay a $22,600 “social compensation fee.”

In 2012, a Chinese law professor lost his job for refusing to pay a $37,500 fine for having a second daughter. Later, officials simply removed the sum from his wife’s account.

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Such tactics have paid off big for the Chinese Communist Party: one estimate put the total revenue from family planning fines at $314 billion since 1980, with at least 3.29 billion reported in 2012 alone.

What’s more, the use of these fines is not subject to accountability, so they may be used simply to line the pockets of the family planning officials, or to fund other government projects under the table.

In a 2013 report of nine provinces, China’s National Audit Office confirmed such suspicions: instead of helping provide public services for “extra children” as intended, the probe found fines were spent on items such as salary bonuses and receptions.

“Local family planning committees never use the money for children,” one Chinese expert told the New York Times. “They use this money as bonuses, or to upgrade office equipment, or even for foreign travel. Not even the central government knows what the money is used for.”

The use of fines will remain in place under the new Two-Child Policy. How many billions have been used to line the pockets of local officials?  This lucrative system (or lack thereof) provides a strong incentive to keep coercive population control in place.

Related Links:

Chinese father-of-our who murdered two birth control officials with a machete because they wouldn’t legalize his child is sentenced to death: 6/20/14

“Zhang Yimou’s children spark one-child policy debate.” 8/8/13.

“The Brutal Truth: A shocking case of forced abortion fuels resentment against China’s one-child policy.” . 6/23/12.

“Huge Fines for Violators of One-Child Policy, but Little Accounting.” 12/12/13

“Population Control Is Called Big Revenue Source in China.” 6/26/13

“China has collected $3.1 billion from one-child policy violators so far this year.” 12/5/13

“Chinese Family Planning Officials Misappropriated $260 Million in Fines.” 9/20/13. Note: Reggie Littlejohn is the Founder and President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. She serves as an expert on China’s One-Child Policy for Human Rights Without Frontiers, in Belgium, as well as the China Aid Association.