China punishes officials after babies taken

Date: 2009-07-04


BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have punished six government officials after three baby girls whose parents were still alive were sent to an orphanage in southern China that subsequently put them up for adoption overseas, state media and an official said.

Family planning officials in impoverished Guizhou province's Zhenyuan County sent the babies to a state-run orphanage during 2003 and 2004 without properly investigating their backgrounds, the county government said on its Web site.

All the parents were still alive but had given up their children to avoid harsh fines under the country's controversial one-child policy. State-run orphanages are only allowed to take in children who have no parents or those whom police have certified as abandoned.

Parents living abroad legally adopted the girls in 2006 and 2007, the government said. The orphanage — which received $3,000 for every adopted baby — has been cleared of wrongdoing, Zhenyuan county government said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday it was not clear if any of the officials who were punished had benefited financially.

One of the girls was the third daughter of Li Zeji, who did not want to pay the 40,000 yuan ($5,854) fine for violating the one-child policy, Xinhua said. Li sent the baby to his cousin who in turn told family planning officials the child had been abandoned, the report said.

The Zhenyuan government said other officials misled another set of parents into handing over their girl by telling them that because they were giving her up voluntarily, they could reclaim her later. The Web site did not provide details.

In the third case, the Luo family gave their second child to a sister who told town officials she had found the baby abandoned, the Zhenyuan government said.

In all three cases the officials sent the girls to the orphanage without proper investigation, the government report said.

Xinhua said six government and Communist Party officials had been punished for their role in the case, including two family planning officials who had been demoted. Wang Daohua, the former assistant head of Jiaoxi township where the babies came from was dismissed for "direct liability."

An official surnamed Zhang from the Zhenyuan county discipline inspection committee confirmed six officials had been disciplined, but did not identify them or specify their punishments.

The one-child policy was launched in the late 1970s to control China's exploding population. Most families are allowed only one child but because of a traditional preference for male heirs, that rule is often broken. Parents are usually fined for violating the one-child policy, but local officials have wide discretion on enforcement, leading to widespread corruption.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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