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China one-child policy abuse "should hit credit"

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 5 (Reuters) A Chinese population expert told parliament today that the government should threaten to limit rich people's access to credit to keep them from spending their way past China's one-child policy, Xinhua news agency said.

Being able to simply pay the state-imposed 150,000 yuan ''Social maintenance fees'' to have an extra child has become the latest sign of the dramatic and growing divide between haves and have-nots in China, a subject of grave concern to the stability-obsessed government.

China started curbing family size in the late 1970s to control growth of its population, now over 1.3 billion. Ethnic minorities and rural families whose first child is a girl are allowed to have a second.

Though people in rural areas have long skirted the one-child policy because of a lack of enforcement, they are increasingly being joined by show business stars and successful entrepreneurs from big cities.

''The personal credit of private business people or celebrities (should) be tainted if they choose to have more children,'' Yang Kuifu, vice chairman of a government population and environment committee, was quoted as saying.

Government employees were largely warned off of having more than one child by threats of losing their jobs, but private business people faced no penalties outside of the fees, Xinhua said.

Chinese officials credit the one-child policy with avoiding 300 million births, equal to the population of Europe, over 30 years in which the country's population has continued to grow.

The restrictions have also bolstered a traditional preference for baby boys and came under fire from western countries and human rights activists.

Another expert previously called the social maintenance fees ''a passport for the wealthy to have more children'' and called for penalties for having multiple children to be levied in proportion to families' incomes.

Earlier this year, the financial hub of Shanghai loosened control on couples having a second child, leading to media speculation that wider reforms of the one-child rule, launched in the early 1980s to curb China's population, could be coming.

REUTERS SY RS1731

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