Film director Zhang Yimou was accused earlier this month of violating China’s one-child policy, reportedly fathering as many as seven children with four different women. In a New York Times op-ed, author Ma Jian explains how Zhang’s case has highlighted the uneven effects of China’s family planning laws:
The truth is: for the rich, the law is a paper tiger, easily circumvented by paying a “social compensation fee” — a fine of 3 to 10 times a household’s annual income, set by each province’s family planning bureau, or by traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore or even America to give birth.
For the poor, however, the policy is a flesh-and-blood tiger with claws and fangs. In the countryside, where the need for extra hands to help in the fields and the deeply entrenched patriarchal desire for a male heir have created strong resistance to population control measures, the tiger has been merciless.
[…] The public outrage voiced against Mr. Zhang during the last week plays into the Party’s hands. Instead of attacking the government’s barbaric policy, the people are being encouraged to criticize the rich for escaping its claws.
Ending this scourge is a moral imperative. The atrocities committed in the name of the one-child policy over the last three decades rank among the worst crimes against humanity of the last century. The stains it has left on China may never be erased. [Source]
At The Guardian (via CDT), Ma recently explained how family planning riots in Guangxi in 2007 inspired his latest novel, The Dark Road.