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China: A Law Professor for Sale…

Last week, the photo below was circulated widely through various microblog platforms.

Street drama

The photo was taken on September 3 in Beijing. In the photo, Professor Yang Zhizhu from China Youth University for Political Sciences is holding a placard to sell himself as a slave in order to pay the penalty for violating the one child policy:

我叫杨支柱,原是中国青年政治学院法律系副教授。因妻子意外怀孕,不忍堕胎,于2009年12月21日生下第二个女儿,我今年4月被学校下岗。现在 我工资单上每月应发工资960元,实发工资368元。两个月后再减960元,变负数了。北京市海淀区计划生育委员会又向我征收24万所谓“社会抚养费”, 我无力缴纳,只好把自己卖了。考虑到卖身之后不能照顾孩子了,我希望多卖40万元补偿她们。一口价64万元人民币,谁买我我就给谁当奴隶,鞠躬尽瘁死而后 已。我拒绝好心人的捐助,因为我不想做“超生”孩子身上的寄生虫。

My name is Yang Zhizhu and I was originally an assistant professor at the China Youth University for Political Sciences. My wife got pregnant by accident and did not have the heart to get an abortion. On December 21, 2009 she gave birth to our second daughter. In April this year, I was laid off by the university. My monthly salary should be 960 yuan, but I now only get 368 yuan. Two months later, they deducted another 960 yuan. Moreover, the Haidian district family planning committee have asked me to pay 240,000 yuan “Social Upbringing Fee”. I don't have money and I can only pay the bill by getting myself sold. Since I won't be able to take care of my children after being sold, I want to mark my price higher to 640,000 yuan. Whoever decides to buy me, I will become their slave and serve them until I die. I reject donations as I don't want to become a parasite for the sake of my child.

The photo is a street drama to raise public awareness of the extremely unreasonable one-child policy and ‘social upbringing’ fee so Yang has decided to go to the court against the Haidian district family planning committee. According to the “Social Upbringing Fee Determination” issued on September 2, 2010, the 240,000 yuan fee was calculated by multiplying the sum of his total annual income by nine:

Social Upbringing fee

Yang posted a summary of a T.V interview in his blog on September 7 to explain the rationale of his legal action:

答:不该交。孩子是我们自己在养,不是社会或者政府在养。我们若楠连户口都没有,在中国这样一个无证寸步难行的国家,没有户口意味着没有被承认为一个人, 完全不能享有作为人最起码的权利,更不要说社会福利了,跟养了条宠物狗差不多。中国政府并没有对养宠物狗征收“社会抚养费”呀。若楠唯一享受的社会福利大 概就是免费注射一类疫苗了,那都是几块钱一支、最多几十块钱一支的便宜疫苗,贵一点的二类疫苗还是要交钱的。而若楠出生以后他们把若一曾经享受的独生子女 费和我工资中的“幼补”都要回去了,四年就有两千多块,已经远远超过若楠免费注射疫苗的成本了。何况若楠长大后还要纳税,一个人一生所纳的税扣除他(她) 幼年、晚年、生病和失业时所享受的社会福利外应该还有剩余…

Q: Why do you refuse to pay the “Social Upbringing Fee”?
A: There is no reason to pay. We feed our own kids, not society nor the government. Our Renan (second daughter's name) does not even enjoy proper household registration. In a country like this, without household registration, you are not recognized as a human being and do not enjoy any rights, not to mention social welfare. It is like feeding your pets. However, Chinese government does not demand that pet owners pay “social upbringing fee”. The only social welfare that Renan has enjoyed so far was a free vaccination, it costs a couple of yuan or at most tens of yuan. We have to pay for the more expensive ones. Moreover, after Renan was born, the subsidy for my first kid was taken away. This sum would have exceed the cost of all the vaccinations. When Renan grows up, she has to pay tax, the amount will also exceed all the benefit she will receive in her whole life….

答: …强制计划生育使得大多数“超生”孩子的母亲不敢进正规医院的门,计划生育政策所倡导的性与生育分离的观念导致青少年视堕胎为儿戏并导致性病泛滥成灾,还有 计划生育所提倡的晚婚晚育,导致了新生儿出生缺陷率的大幅度增加。独生子女的普遍化导致独生子女养育模式成为几乎所有孩童的养育模式,从小娇生惯养,生存 能力和心理素质严重下降。巨额“超生”罚款和社会抚养费夺去了“超生”父母抚养、教育孩子的财产,导致“超生”家庭的孩子营养不良,受教育程度相对下降。 仅仅上世纪80年代中国农村“超生”的孩子就有一亿左右,这意味着至少4亿人的生活水平受到了严重影响。因此计划生育决不像国家计生委所说的那样是“优生优育”,而是恰恰相反,是劣生劣育。

Q: What are the problems that the forced “one child” birth control brings to the Chinese society's sustainable development?
A:… Many pregnant women dare not enter proper hospitals because of the one child policy. The separation of sex and reproduction promoted by the family planning policy has resulted in widespread abortions among young people. Late marriage and late birth has led to the increase of birth defects. The one-child family has changed the child rearing culture and brought about a lot of spoiled kids. The fine and “Social Upbringing Fee” has taken away the family's saving for rearing and education the kids. It is estimated that there are 0.1 billion illegal births in rural China, which means more than 0.4 billion people's livelihoods have been affected. That is why the birth control policy is not for better quality offspring but on the contrary, it creates a desperate environment for the children to grow up in.

Below is a video interview of Yang and his wife on their living condition upon violating the one-child policy:

Echoes and support

Yang's action has received a lot of sympathy online. In the comment section of his blog post, feichujisheng said:

本 人是70年代的独生子女【74年出生,是中国第一批计划生育政策的受害者,当时政策规定,母亲生完孩子后要带环,隔六年允许生第二个孩子,(这个政策到 75年就变了,不需要带环了)但是到了80年,国家又变政策了,一对夫妇只能生一个孩子,现在父母都感觉上了国家的当,整天念叨当时要是有2个孩子就好 了】,我从小没有兄弟姐妹,没有快乐,独生子女政策也影响了我的性格,现在父母年龄已大,而自己又要工作,又要照顾小孩,没法分出更多的时间照顾父母,尤 其是父母有病住院时,我感到特别无助,从我的亲身经历来说,计划生育是非人性的,是一个无赖的政策,我坚决反对。

Teacher Yang's action causes me to express our belief in justice rather than just being an onlooker. That's why I registered this user account to show my support for teacher Yang. I give my support from Shandong. If you are planning to demonstrate in the streets, I will be the first to join. I am willing to devote myself to the cause of Chinese people's reproductive rights and freedom.
I was born in 1974, the first batch of victims in family planning. According to the policy at that time, my mother had to take the Cervical Cerclage surgery and would only be allowed to have second baby six years later. (The policy about Cervical Cerclage was changed in 1975.) However, in the 80s, the policy changed again, every couple could only have one child. My parents feel cheated by the government. I don't have any brothers or sisters and I am not happy. The one child policy has changed my personality. Now that my parents are getting old, I have to work and take care of my own kid. I can't spend more time with my parents. I feel particularly helpless when they are in hospital. From my experience, this kind of birth control is inhuman and shameless. I will fight against it.

jyc__2 said:

1 不要激动,要冷静,不要有过激言行。
2 作为法律系的副教授,为什么不充分运用法律武器呢?计生委和学校的做法是否无懈可击呢?赞成你在博客上系统的阐明自己的观点。
3 最后一条:死猪不怕开水烫,虱子多了不痒,没有钱交,又能怎么样?中国并不是一个真正的法治社会。

A few bits of advice for Professor Yan (just for reference)
1. Don't be too emotional, stay calm and watch your choice of words and actions.
2. As a law professor why don't you use legal weapons? The family planning committee and the school's action are questionable. I support that you state your opinion in your blog.
3. Lastly: a dead pig is not afraid of hot water, once you have enough fleas on your body you don't feel scratchy. If you don't have money to pay the fine, what can they do? Chinese society is not ruled by law anyway.

180 thousands, another victim of the one-child policy, said,


Teacher Yang, I have left messages in your blog before.
I am one of those “quota exceeded” mothers under the Zhongguan village family planning committee.
Last Friday, I applied for household registration at the committee and the discounted “social upbringing fee” was 180 thousand.
You are our representative, with your action, we will carry on. thank you.

In sina micro-blog, one of the thread has up to 3611 re-post 1358 comments:

@韩浩月:社会抚养费?有个冷笑话,一个二胎宝宝一年不到意外死亡了,家长要求计生委退还巨额社会抚养费,因为社会抚养已经终止了,这个理由不过分吧。计生委居然回复没有法律依据。什么是吃肉不吐骨头?社会抚养费的荒唐,可以穷尽人间所有笑话(9月11日 05:18)

@韩浩月: There is a dark humor about the “social upbringing fee”: some parents had lost their second child in an accident within a year and asked the family planning committee to return the money as the child did not need ‘social upbringing’ anymore. The committee said that there wasn't any legal obliogation for a fine to be returned. This is eating meat without spitting the bones! What a ridiculous joke! (05:18 Sep 11)


reply to @LANE1092: Things are not that simple. Releasing the control will not necessarily lead to population explosion. For example in Hong Kong, the government encourages a high birth rate. It is totally free to give birth and they will provide benefits. However, their natural population growth is still negative.

夏日清晨的栀子花 可叹可恨!当年我叔叔因为生了第二胎(这是因为前面失去了一个非常可爱的聪明的儿子,才那么渴望要有一个同样的宝贝吧),结果整整八年时间仅领取基本工 资,差点开除党籍,不能评高级教师。幸好他的两个女儿现在很争气,否则他真的是一辈子都会有阴影。(9月10日 20:02)

This is so hateful! Many years ago, my uncle had a second child (because he lost a son earlier and wanted to have another one) . For 8 years, he only had his basic salary and almost lost his party membership and teacher status. Fortunately, his two daughters are proving very brilliant now, or he might feel regret. (20:02, Sep 10)

Tribute to Chen Guangcheng

Yang's action coincided with the release of the prominent barefoot human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who has devoted himself to the fight for reproductive rights in rural China. Chen was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months imprisonment and is still monitored after his release on September 9. His name is on the black list in most of the local search engines. However, his actions have inspired many people and Yang is one of his followers.


  • Malae

    It’s our life…
    As all us knew that our life is a challenged for us because life is not our choice, so I just encouraging you to do what ever you are facing.

    God bless you

  • Roger Davies

    The prospect is for 9 billion people on the planet by 2050. Even if we as a world manage food and energy very well these are alarming figures. What will the position be in 2100! China’s policy is in the right direction. However the penalties for breaking the 1 child rule seem very harsh. In the West we have found that as the per capita income has improved the economic need to have many children has disappeared and that fact coupled with the availability of effective contraception has meant the birthrate has fallen. In many cases to below the replacement rate without threatening drastic penalties, or indeed any fiscal penalties. Apart from the aging population, the problem I see is that the rise in incomes and consequent drop in birthrate cannot happen fast enough and in any case brings with it increases in consumption caused by affluence. I fear that climate changes, war and plague will achieve what mankind is incapable disciplining itself to implement. All of which is no comfort particularly to an individual such as yourself with your specific problem. (I was born and live in UK)

  • gregorylent

    unspoken, the huge numbers of abortions in china …

  • Sara

    You should be allowed to have 10 children. No government should forbid such a thing! There will not be too many people anyway; old people die and babies get born. I hope China chnges it´s politics, because it is crazy!

  • […] Yang Zhizhu: Against the One Child […]

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