China mother, fined $54,200 for flouting one-child policy, sues for basic rights

Wed Dec 4, 2013 4:47pm EST
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese warehouse worker Liu Fei was fined 330,000 yuan ($54,200), or 14 times her yearly wage, for having a second child and her failure to pay means the boy has no access to basic rights like schooling and healthcare.

Liu's desperation prompted a fruitless attempt to sell her kidney and her eight-year-old boy's plea to sell his instead.

Their dilemma has now triggered a rare legal battle against the police for denying the boy a "hukou" - household registration - due to strict family planning laws.

The case will be heard in a Beijing court on Friday.

Liu's inability to pay the fine has left her son, Xiaojie, without an official identity. Family planning officials in Beijing told Liu in 2011 she would not be able to obtain a "hukou" if she did not pay up.

"When I saw (the fine), I thought this was inconceivable," a tearful Liu, 41, told Reuters. "I had no idea I would be fined so much. If I had known, I would never have given birth."

Liu's ordeal underscores the punitive nature of China's family planning policy, beyond the more well-known stories of forced abortions and sterilizations, and highlights the plight of an estimated 13 million undocumented children, known as "black children".

In China, "black" implies something illegal, outside of the mainstream or unofficial. Liu asked for her and her son to be identified by pseudonyms to avoid drawing attention.   Continued...

Nurses show a pair of fraternal twins to their mother (bottom) after they were born at the IVF centre of a hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi province August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer