The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Radical Jilin steals Beijing’s thunder
- China province allows women to have children from donated sperm

Beijing, Nov. 11: Not the party congress now in session here, but a new law in China’s northeastern province of Jilin is making news to the new-age women here.

The news is they can have children without having to marry. It’s the first-ever such law anywhere in the country. It’s no small matter in a country which has 1.2 billion people — the highest in the world.

To the outside world, that’s hardly news. But in communist China, where the state has long adopted and enforced the one-child norm, it is illegal and punishable to have more than one child.

But the Jilin provincial population and family planning regulation has sprung a surprise. Just a couple of days before the communist party congress began here on November 8, Jilin passed the new law, which says that women who are 20 — the legal age of marriage — can have children legally with the help of donated sperm.

“It’s a revolutionary thing. I would love to move to Jilin to take advantage of the law,” a 20-year-old woman, who just called herself Wy, told China Daily, the country’s only — and official — English newspaper. She said she did not need a man to raise her child financially or emotionally.

That the law has caused something of a stir, not just among women, was evident from the rather disapproving remarks of Wang Shizhou, a law professor of Beijing University: “To my knowledge, Beijing has no such legislation. I doubt if the society will accept it.” Wang objected to the idea on “moral grounds”.

Even in Jilin, where the legislation has started a raging debate, it has been received with much scepticism. Fu Xiuhua, a professor at the Sociology and Philosophy College of Jilin University, was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that the move was not only questionable but unfair on the child.

An analyst in Beijing, however, had other causes of worry. “Even though the country has been made to accept the one-child norm, there are lots of cases where parents willing to have more children can have them by paying bribes to local officials and party bosses.”

“Yes, that happens, particularly in remote areas far from the administrative centres,” says Li Chan, a journalist from Inner Mongolia, who plans to marry next year.

Jilin has passed the law only this month. It would be interesting to see what the communist party bosses, now setting the country’s agenda for the next 20 years, do to the Jilin law.

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