A Chinese family with eight children was slapped with a 2.6 million yuan ($401,660) fine for breaking China’s family planning laws. This was later reduced to 90,000 yuan ($13,900), Chinese news site Jiemian reported on Monday.
In their quest for a son, 50-year-old farmer Liu Mouhua and his former wife continued having children. The couple from Anyue county in west China’s Sichuan had five daughters before giving birth to two sons in 2006 and 2010, and a daughter in between the boys, according to the South China Morning Post.
In China, many families have a preference for sons because they are the ones who pass on the family name. However, the country also has a strict population planning policy, under which families who exceed the number of children allowed are fined or have to pay “social support fees.”
These fines and payments are usually calculated based on annual income and decided by local governments. In Sichuan province and before 2016, the fine was between six and eight times the family’s annual income, reported Jiemian. The fine was later reduced to three times the family’s annual income.
All of Liu’s children were born before 2015 – at which point China relaxed its one-child policy to two – so he was fined for every child born after the first. The 2.6 million yuan fine was a penalty for Liu’s sixth, seventh, and eighth children. It’s unclear how much he paid in fines or “social support” for his other children.
After local authorities spoke to the local court and lawyers, the fine was lowered to 90,000 yuan to be paid in installments, Jiemian reported.
The father of eight told Jiemian he was resigned to paying the fine but admitted it was a struggle with five children who are still in school and two in college.
“I’ll pay what I have, after deducting expenditure for my children and parents’ daily lives. I will face it and pay as much as I can,” he told the Chinese news site.
Liu’s story has caused a stir on Chinese social media as China suffers from a rapidly aging and shrinking population. Earlier this year, the country expanded its two-child policy to three to encourage more children.
Many people on China’s Twitter-like Weibo were calling for the family to be rewarded, not penalized.
One user who goes by the user name @feiliwusi said, “I suggest a direct reward,” which was liked by more than 10,000 users. Another user, who goes by @weilaidewei2018, commented: “no penalty, I can give my three-child quota to him.”