Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Guangxi Family Planning Scandal

A new Family Planning scandal is erupting in China, this one taking place in Quanzhou, Guangxi Province.

In September 1989, a boy was born to a couple with six previous children, father Deng Zhen Sheng and mother Tang Yue Ying. Soon after the boy was born, Family Planning paid a visit to the family and assessed a fine of 6,000 yuan, and the family was given 15 days to pay the fine. The family put together  and paid 1,380 yuan, all they had. Family Planning then confiscated some furniture and other possessions of the family.  

Nearly a year later, in August 1990, Ms. Gao Li Jun, head of the Quanzhou Family Planning office, tricked the family into bringing the boy to the her office, even sending a driver to the family’s village to pick them up. While in the Family Planning office, the boy garnered the attention of the Family Planning leader. Ms. Gao invited the family to her house for dinner. While eating, she tried to talk them into allowing her to find a rich family to adopt their son, since they were poor. “No,” the husband angrily replied, “who wants to adopt my son? I won’t give my son to anyone.” The subject was dropped.

After dinner, Ms. Gao arranged for a room for the family at a hostel across the street from the Family Planning office. Ms. Gao told them to not leave the room. Less than an hour later, five “comrades” from Family Planning broke into the room where the mother, daughter, and the son were (the father had gone to the market). They took the boy.

The family attempted for years to retrieve the boy, asking for information about their son. Ms. Gao repeatedly told them that when he turned 30 he would return to them.

In 2020, the family’s patience ended and on June 21, 2022, the birth family filed a complaint with the Quanzhou government.

Up to this point, the story is common, and certainly would not become a big scandal. It is the response of the government that is the fuel for the scandal.

The first response to the complaint came from the Quanzhou County police. “We have your complaint, and have transferred it to the Quanzhou County Anhe police station.”

The Anhe police then passed the buck to the area health department. On July 1, 2022, the family received a letter from the County Health Bureau. We have received the complaint "demanding that Gao Li Jun be held accountable for trafficking in children and requiring the Public Security Agency to initiate an investigation,” the response stated. The letter continued, saying that the regulations regarding Family Planning policy in the 1990s “were strictly implemented,” Since their child was the seventh child born to them, “there [was] no child abduction behavior.” The letter concluded, “Therefore, the Bureau will not accept your petition.”

The family obviously did not want to accept this “let sleeping dogs lie” response to their case. So they contacted a reporter. On July 5, 2022, the story hit the internet, and spread like wildfire across China (the original reporting has since been taken down, and our links probably will also soon disappear). The netizens in China are furious for a few reasons. The primary anger is directed at the government officials who seem so callous to this family’s story, and just brush off their case. Second, that Ms. Gao Li Jun apparently had a racket going of confiscating children under the guise of the Family Planning regulations to adopt to third party families.

This story seems to have hit a very raw nerve inside China. Tens of thousands of people are spreading the story (assuming a particular story stays up long enough to spread). It will be interesting to see if international attention is brought to it (the children from Quanzhou County were adopted through the Guilin orphanage, so there may be an international component to this story, since finding ads list the Family Planning Bureau as the most common finding location in Quanzhou County). But what is known is that this story is again a reminder to searching birth families that they are not alone. More such stories will no doubt follow.