Punished For Parenting: Paying the Price for Violating the One-Child Policy



Last week in Sochi, thousands gathered to watch the opening ceremonies for the 2014 winter Olympics.  The show was spectacular, leaving viewers marveling at the brains that dreamt up the intricate ceremonies. Large choreographed ensembles and amazing technical feats were reminiscent of the incredible Beijing opening ceremonies in 2008. Most people remember Beijing’s incredible ceremonies, and some may even remember Zhang Yimou, the brilliant mind behind the show. However, what many people do not know is that he was just forced to pay a sum of 7.48 million Yuan ($1.2 Million) for violating the One-Child Policy.


Zhang Yimou is an acclaimed Chinese film director famous for planning the Beijing 2008 ceremonies, directing well-know movies like House of the Flying Daggers, and now for scoring the largest fine ever given for violating the One-Child Policy. According to news reports, Zhang is guilty of fathering three children and hiding their existence. All three children were born before Zhang officially registered his marriage.  Investigations conducted in November confirmed Zhang’s illegal children, so he could no longer conceal his family. Because One-Child Policy fines are proportional to income, the extremely affluent Zhang received an enormous “social support fee” of 7.48 million Yuan.  Faced with the options of asking for an administrative review, filing a lawsuit, or simply paying the fine, Zhang chose to accept the financial penalty. Authorities will deposit his money in the national treasury.


While paying 7.48 million Yuan may not be a life-altering devastation to prosperous Zhang, there are others who cannot deal with these punishments so easily.  University professor Cai Zhiqi is one man whose entire career was jeopardized due to his and his wife’s violation of the One-Child Policy.


Cai’s story is a complicated one. In 2003, Cai married a fellow student at Zhejing University, and in 2007 the couple moved to the United States together. Once there, Cai worked on his PhD in chemistry at Ohio University. Later that year, Cai’s daughter Lingling was born and thus received U.S citizenship. Before the couple returned to China, Cai’s wife became pregnant again.  The second daughter, Doudou, was conceived in the United States, but was born in China and therefore obtained Chinese citizenship.


Upon the family’s return to China in 2009, Cai took up a post teaching at South China University of Technology.  Cai continued his life with his family in China, but one day he received a phone call from the university telling him that he was in trouble for violating the One-Child Policy. One provision of the One-Child Policy exempts student couples who study abroad from the punishments for having multiple children, and Cai cited this provision in his fight against the University. Cai believed that since one daughter was born abroad, her birth should not count towards his total number of children in China. After a battle over various national and provincial stipulations, Cai and his wife were found guilty of violating the One-Child Policy and Cai was subsequently fired from his position at the University. Although Cai and his wife were overseas when the first daughter was born, because Cai’s wife was not an official student in the States, the couple could not be included in the exception for student couples abroad.


At the time, Cai’s wife was studying for a PhD at South China University of Technology, so the University also requested that she stop her studies there and that she and Cai leave quietly and relocate. While Cai was willing to seek other jobs for himself, he was furious that his wife too would have to stop studying. It was for this reason that Cai fought the accusations instead of simply leaving his job.


Cai’s respect for his wife and her studies is refreshing. In an interview with Guangzhou Daily, Cai told the paper, “I think the right of my wife to earn her degree is more important than my job…She sacrificed a lot for the family. I think that she should cherish the opportunity to continue her studies.” Although Cai mourned that his “family life was greatly affected” by this conflict, his respect for his wife and family is commendable, and makes his struggles with the One-Child Policy all the more heartbreaking.


The amount of time, resources, and energy China invests in enforcing the One-Child Policy is astounding.  The 7.48 million Yuan Zhang Yimou paid as a fine seems like a petty sum compared with the over 4.82 billion Yuan ($7.08 million) China spends each year on maintaining family planning and the One-Child Policy. China could do so much good with the resources it spends on the One-Child Policy, but instead billions of Yuan, hours of time, and the labor of thousands of people are used to harm babies and destroy families.


Chinese Family Planning Officials readily dole out overwhelming fines, rob families of their children, and strip people of their jobs, and it is easy to forget that those who suffer these consequences are real humans like us. While some cases like Zhang Yimou and Cai Zhiqi’s gain international attention, there are scores more that never get exposed. Simply bringing one more child into the world can change a family’s life forever and cause permanent pain to parents and children.


Only God can change the hearts of Chinese officials and lead them to do good instead of persecuting families. While punishing people for violating the One-Child Policy can be so easy for Family Planning Officials, for people like Zhang Yimou, Cai Zhiqi, and thousands of others, these punishments can cause life-long anguish.


The Bible talks about the hearts of evildoers in the Psalms,


“The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)


“Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, "God will never call us to account." (Psalm 10:13)


These verses show that those who do evil have no concern for God and do not know the true consequences of their actions. As we continue to pray for the families who are oppressed by the One-Child Policy, let us also pray for Family Planning Officials and those involved in these crimes. Pray for their salvation and for God to have mercy on them and lead them to repent for their wrong actions. Often those who oppress are those who have been oppressed themselves. We need to pray for healing for Chinese authorities and Family Planning Officials so their hearts will soften and they will turn to Jesus as the source of light and new beginnings.

by Emilie, All Girls Allowed


All Girls Allowed (http://www.allgirlsallowed.org) was founded by Chai Ling in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and revealing the injustice of the One-Child Policy.  “In Jesus’ Name, Simply Love Her.”



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