Hukou-less Child Wants Revenge on Family Planning Commission

A little Chinese boy holds up a "hukou" household registration booklet.

A little Chinese boy holds up a "hukou" household registration booklet.

The article below is currently the most discussed article on major Chinese web portal NetEase with over 160k comment participants. In Chinese, the word “black” in front of something means that thing is illegal, illegitimate, or officially unrecognized, like a “black taxi”. So, “black child” is a child that lacks proper government-issued identification and documentation. “Black society” refers to organized crime like gangs, triads, or mafia.

From NetEase:

8-Year-Old Born Out of Wedlock “Black Child”: When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Join “Black Society” to Take Revenge on the Family Planning Commission

“Black Child” Investigation

“Black households” are a demographic of people whose objective existence is not recognized by society, and because they have since birth been unable to enjoy the various rights of normal citizens, the characters/quality of “black household” members are widely relatively low [lack of education, etc.], therefore becoming a hidden danger to the normal order of society.

Because she is unable to solve her child’s hukou [household registration] problem, single mother Liu Fei (pseudonym) has taken the Beijing Fangshan district Public Security Sub-Bureau to court, requesting that the court confirm that the Fangshan sub-bureau’s refusal to process her child’s hukou household registration is illegal.

Liu Fei and Li X gave birth to their child Little Jie (pseudonym) in a situation where they had not registered for marriage, and because they are unable to pay over 330k yuan in Social Maintenance Fees [a fine for having more children than allowed by law], Little Jie is already 8 years old this year but still a “black child” without a hukou. From the child’s birth certificate to the child’s education, every step of the way, Liu Fei has repeatedly suffered obstacles and setbacks, forced to “find connections and beg favors” everywhere, and even so, the line for Little Jie’s identification number on his school enrollment card is blank.

…children born out of wedlock like Little Jie can have major problems just getting a birth certificate…”

Due to the household registry system and family planning policies, in China, whether a child can have their household registration processed after birth requires various documentation. In some areas, children born out of wedlock like Little Jie can have major problems just getting a birth certificate. Without a birth certificate, it is then impossible to apply for national and household registration, impossible to get a citizen identification number, and also impossible to prove to prove an infant’s birth and blood relations.

In October of this year, the Hubei province Health and Family Planning Commission introduced measures for the administration of handling birth certificates, requiring “the various issuing agencies ad management agencies to not make documents such as marriage certificates and birth permits additional requirements for the issuance (of birth certificates)”.

As a matter of fact, according the series of “Medical Birth Certificate” regulations issued by the Health Department and Public Security Bureau, the processing of “Medical Birth Certificates” requires the examination of the newborn infant’s parents’ valid identification, but does not have marriage certificates or birth permits as additional requirements. However, in practice, “black children” like Little Jie are a huge demographic, and the news of Hubei’s revision of the administration measures brought renewed attention to the issue of “black children”.

“Black Children”

They are a group of innocent children, but in the eyes of secular society and the clauses of the law, they have been branded as the products of immorality. In terms of the law, they are children born out of wedlock, but in the hidden subcultures of society, they have an even more embarrassing name–“illegitimate children/bastards”.

In the middle of winter 2013, one week after Liu Fei’s case began, this reporter met Little Jie. Heading southwest from Beijing South Station, passing through the West Sixth Ring Road and a series of toll booths, the taxi lingered on the small streets of Fangshan district Qinglonghu town, lost, the navigation system also failing intermittently. From the notion of “Old Beijing”, this place can no longer be considered the capital city, the scenery along the road no different from any ordinary small county town. After driving around and finally finding the neighborhood where Liu Fei’s home is, it was already 8pm at night.

From Liu Fei tone of helplessness, this reporter could tell that life for this mutually dependent mother-son pair is indeed not easy.

Upon meeting, Liu Fei immediately began to explain to Xinmin Weekly: “I’m truly sorry for not returning your text message earlier, there has just been too many things today. The lock on our front door is broken, my child couldn’t get in after returning home, and I had to eventually find someone to pry the lock open. I didn’t even have time to make dinner for my child and had him go to my aunt’s home to eat on his own.” From Liu Fei tone of helplessness, this reporter could tell that life for this mutually dependent mother-son pair is indeed not easy. For a single mother raising a child on her own, could her child’s household registration be the only problem in her life?

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Once inside Liu Fei’s home, Little Jie was already waiting by the door. Seeing his mother bring a reporter in, he was full of excitement. This is a lively energetic boy, one you couldn’t tell as being different from other children. “Auntie [referring to the reporter], I heard Mommy say you took a wrong turn. Did you accidentally go all the way to Qinglonghu Primary School? That’s where I go to school. I just started first grade…” My conversation with Little Jie began with this kind of easy and vivacious mood, up until this reporter found the CD Liu Fei pointed to on the computer desk, when the mood suddenly took a turn.

When it happened, Liu Fei was in the kitchen cooking. In the noise of the exhaust hood, Liu Fei leaned out of the kitchen halfway and told this reporter who was chatting with Little Jie on the sofa that on the computer desk in her bedroom is an interview CD that was mailed to her by the media. “Media people came a few days ago, and after interviewing me, they mailed me two CDs. I couldn’t play them; I’m not sure if it is a computer problem. Can you take a look for me?”

Without waiting for this reporter to respond, Little Jie had already jumped up and pulled this reporter into Liu Fei’s bedroom, picked up the CD and very experienced-like put it into the CD drive. Indeed, the CD player could not play it, and Little Jie suddenly said: “Even without watching it, I know it must be about my mom.” When saying this, Little Jie’s previous liveliness and energy disappeared. There was a sort of negative energy that is very difficult to describe in his tone of voice. Was it dejection? Helplessness? Or was it anger?

“My mom doesn’t have the money to pay it, and wants to sell her kidney…”

“They say my mom has to be fined for having me, or else they won’t give me a household registration. The fine is over 300k. My mom doesn’t have the money to pay it, and wants to sell her kidney…” Little Jie continued. When this reporter asked Little Jie where her heard these things, Little Jie answered: “They’re always saying this to my mom, in person, on the phone, I heard it. I think the Family Planning Commission and Public Security Bureau people are really bad. When I grow up, I want to join black society [organized crime], and take revenge on them.” To hear this kind of talk from the mouth of an 8-year-old boy who had just started first grade in elementary school, this reporter was shocked, and at the same time left speechless and unable to respond.


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Comments from NetEase:

网易美国网友 网易美国网友 ip:67.110.*.*:

Such a difference. Old Zhang‘s 3 children could all get hukou household registrations.
But her one child can’t even get one. [The differences] in China’s current situation sure are large.

mike208234 [网易广西梧州市网友]:

Not afraid of black society, only afraid of society becoming black.

拳打幼儿园脚踢敬老院 [网易广东省深圳市网友]:

What did the child do wrong? Why can’t even an identification number be given to him?

网易甘肃省平凉市网友 ip:115.85.*.*:

Child, don’t get people mixed up. Whoever ruined your life is who you should ruin. [Get revenge on those responsible, don’t take it out on innocents.]

biao8329 [网易广东省深圳市网友]:

Having children, reproducing, and having descendents is the god-given right of every person, so for what reason do we have to have other people’s permission to have children?


I was born in ’82. The barbaric conduct of Family Planning officials has always been a shadow from my childhood. They are no less than bandits! I hate them too, so I can understand the interviewee in this article.

网易江苏省苏州市手机网友 [英雄小喇嘛]: (responding to above)

I’m was born in ’87 and in my time, I’ve seen the confiscation of food, furniture, household appliances, as well as demolition of homes, and the reason was simply because of excessive births [having more children in violation of the law]! I was supposed to have a younger brother. At 9-months, labor was induced, and he was even moving when he came out! They immediately stuck a needle into his head [killing the baby]!

网易北京市网友 [中华人民共和国酱油党]: (responding to above)

My god, 2nd floor [above commenter], is what you saying true? Reading it covered me with cold sweat. Inducing labor even at 9 months? How is this family planning? This is murder for money. Sue them, and if you can’t then bludgeon them to death with a brick.

网易广东省广州市网友 [lirunfa168]: (responding to above)

Stuff like what the 2nd floor said are plenty.
Murder for money.

网易上海市静安区网友 [云中淡烟]: (responding to above)

My family’s part-time help says her neighbor was also at 9 months when she was dragged away and forcibly given an injection. En route, she even jumped into a river attempting to escape, but was dragged ashore. And it was a baby boy too.

网易广东省东莞市网友 [幸福的味道333]: (responding to above)

According to what a friend who is a nurse said, back then, a lot of those that had induced labor had fully-developed and moving babies, that were then immediately suffocated to death and thrown into the bin. Sometimes there were so many that they had no where to hold them. Extremely brutal.

宇宙之外的生物 [网易南非网友]: (responding to above)

That’s not even the most brutal. In ’04, civil servants in small towns and villages responsible for family planning all had assignments. One person would watch over several pregnant women, breaking into people’s homes in the middle of the night to grab people. The pregnant women’s men would be away for work, completely unable to stop their bandit-like behavior. If you fled, they’d find you. A classmate told me he saw with his own eyes carts with the body of infants pulled out at the hospital. Everyday, at least 5-6 times. He had just started working, and his conscience was constantly disturbed.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Joey

    Brutal but necessary work. Imagine a China where everybody could just keep pumping out babies, the country would be an overpopulated hell.

    • Dax

      Population growth was slowing even before the beginning of the one child policy.

      Anyway, that’s beside the point. This kid seems to be an only child. He’s just being punished because his mom got pregnant without getting married. Punishing a kid because his mom had sex out of marriage is an awfully puritanical act for an avowedly atheist country…

      • Joey

        That’s true. I hope the kid gets his hukou. But somehow I feel that the whole story hasn’t been told in this article.

      • Cauffiel

        Population growth may have been slowing, but even now after more than 30 years of one-child policy, it has not stopped. The population is still growing, and over the past 20 years China has added more people to the world than any other country except India.

        Strict sexual mores come from places other than religion.

        • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

          You’re answering the wrong question. The question is not “Is China’s population controlled?”, it’s “Why the fuck is it so hard to get this kid in the system?”

          • Cauffiel

            I accidentally left my gfs handbag at a table at McDonalds for about 3 minutes. She was pissed.

            She went on for over an hour about how if she loses her national ID card, it would take at least 3 months and possibly over a year to get a new one. She would have to go back to her hometown and apply for it there, and then just wait for who-knows-how-long. If anything went wrong, she would have to apply for it again.

            Without an ID card in China, you really can’t do anything…. no trains, no planes, and a number of other things, I’m not sure…. I stopped listening to her after about 5 minutes.

            But if its so difficult to replace a legit ID card, imagine how hard it is to…. well, get hukou if there is no statute covering your circumstances.

          • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

            So basically the system’s broken but no one wants to fix that monster.

      • anon101

        with pollution causing infertility (check out how many people are buying sperm or adopting now), the rate is slowing. once all the grand parents die off, the one child’ers wont know how to look after a baby so no more will be had.

    • Dr Sun

      you must know nothing about the economic realities of living in China, no one can afford to “pump out babies”, no child support here, no welfare, no free council housing.

      • Joey

        That’s not going to stop anyone from putting their 鸡巴 into some 黑木耳.

        • Dr Sun

          this may come as a shock to you but birth control is widely used by women here.

          • Joey

            This may come as a shock to you but when the choice is between food and condoms, people are going to choose food.

            Or they buy sheep intestines and have the best of both worlds.

          • Dr Sun

            so “pumping out babies” produces food, I think not ?

            just to let you know condoms are only 1 of a number of birth control methods available here in China, ask your teacher she may be giving a class on it when you reach 8th grade.

            kinda shocked your still using sheep or pig guts as condoms where you live, where is that you are from ?

            or do you have any more

          • Cauffiel

            “Condoms” and “abortion” are not “a number of types of birth control.”

            Seriously, though…. what is available? Diaphragms? Sponges? Shots? Patches? Implants? Is it easy to get vasectomy? Do Chinese men do that?

          • Dr Sun

            Sorry yes they are, there are a number of birth control methods available beyond condoms
            You can Google web md to educate yourself on that if you want.

            As for vasectomty,probably as much as men do worldwide.
            are you sniped ?

          • Cauffiel

            Which two worlds are you talking about? Fucking an animal and human at the same time? I’d say thats one single big ass wonderful world.

          • Cauffiel

            Every woman I have ever asked about birth control thought I was talking about the morning after pill.

            When I described what I meant by birth control, they had no idea what I was talking about.

          • Dr Sun

            and what where you talking about ?

          • Dax

            Typical deflection. This story is not about Western countries. It’s about China. No other country is so much as mentioned in the text.

            If China is going to be so keen to tell other countries that Chinese behavior shouldn’t be compared to other countries, then the default response cant be “but, but… the west…”

            The “oh crap, i probably shouldn’t have humped that stranger, better go to the pharmacist” pill and abortion aren’t generally considered birth control. My general perception is that birth control is something you do BEFORE you sleep with someone whose baby you aren’t prepared to have.

          • Cauffiel

            It would have been more respectable just to say “Once again, I have no idea what I’m talking about it.”

            There are many types of contraception, but there is only one thing referred to as “birth control.”

          • ex-expat

            Exactly! The people I explained it to had no idea what it was either. For a country that places such strict controls on childbirth, you would think that they would at least educate the population about birth control pills. Though, sadly, those responsible for educating are probably just as clueless.

          • Cauffiel

            You would think they would give it away for free!!! How is China not the largest consumer of birth control in the world? They really have their heads in the sand about…. just many, many things.

          • bprichard

            Sad but true.

        • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

          Yeah it does. Lack of those benefits means the parents will be working to the bone for the bare essentials. When they get home, they’ll be too tired to do the nasty.

          First, I find that the more a people are pampered, the more relaxed they can be. The more relaxed, the fewer problems, and the more energy that can be devoted to humpin and pumpin

          Second, the majority of cases where I see Chinese families with more than one child are the ones with parents in high positions, where they can throw money at it until the problem solves itself. No surprise that they have multiple kids. Your job pays for everything and more, you may not need to work as hard, and focus your energy on other pursuits.

      • FYIADragoon

        Trust me, the people who actually think about managing household finances aren’t the ones with more than 1 or 2 children. Low socioeconomic status and intelligence seems to go hand in hand with large households.

        • Dr Sun

          I refer you back to my previous comments.

    • Zappa Frank

      May be true that overpopulation had to be stopped, but this way?

    • David S.

      What kind of State makes a child pay for his parents’ failings?

  • 5000 years of history

    Great script for a future movie. It would be a better movie than always killing and winning against Japanese. Boy joins triad. Boy becomes triad boss. Boy lures family planning workers to a slow and Tortures death.

    • Nessquick Choco

      And after…….., fight the japs again :D :D

      • filabusta

        Black Boy 2: Fighting the Japs

        • Nessquick Choco

          thank you friend, here i just do not care about grammar so much.

  • David

    OK, after reading stories here for almost a year (thank you to all the translators) I finally have to ask this. . . What is up with the reporting in China? Who teaches them how to report a story? This is not a news reports this is a 10 minutes travel log. This is like watching the “last time on Little House on the Prairie. . .” then skipping the actual show. Do they just like to dish it out a little at a time? Don’t they realize this is supposed to represent real life not a soap opera? I just read a story and learned as much from Faunas little header as I did in the rest of the story. Is everybody else just so used to this bad of reporting that nobody cares? Sorry, sometimes I actually want to know what is on the disk and not that the reporter got lost getting to the woman’s home.

  • Free Man

    Yeah, all this sucks, is unfair to the people, and the system is screwed up, but at some point this planet will be full and we all will have to ask ourself: make babies and starve to death because there isn’t enough food/water; or do family planning and keep in control of our resources.

    Until then: take the parent’s hukou and give it to their children. They are responsible for giving birth, not the system, so the parents should suffer the consequences, not their children.

    • ElectricTurtle

      Resource scarcity is not the issue all the fearmongering Malthusians make it out to be. Regardless, most countries the developed world are operating at fertility rates below replacement without any laws mandating it. All you have to do is make the general population so spoiled that they forget that they’ll be old someday and you too can have a crisis like Japan where senior care has an increasingly intractable labor shortage.

      • Free Man

        You make it sound like the world population is decreasing, but the opposite is happening. Yeah, developed countries have a decreasing population, but I think that’s a temporary development (temporary as in terms of decades or centuries). Where I come from people begin to notice that the government can’t take care of them as promised. Soon they will understand that there is no replacement for children.

        • anon101

          The world can hold many many more people, we have ocieans that can be lived on, food production can be intensified, using current tech level power gen (nuclear) we can take water from the sea and turn it into drinking water, we can grow food in stacks using artificial light. As our teach expands with the population, so too will our clean power generation methods.
          We currently have the technology to dig a bunker, use a wind turbine to generate all the power needed to convert water into clean water and provide us with basic food, then never leave the bunker again. dont forget 95% of world’s population is concentrated on just 10% of world’s land surface

          • Free Man

            I didn’t say, that we are out of space today. But one example: it’s a fact that the amount of fish in the oceans is already decreasing. And don’t forget, most of China is actually desert and uninhabitable mountains. You wanna live there? Then go ahead.

            I agree that with some effort we could pack more people on this planet, but you can’t tell me that there is infite space for human beings. At some point the boat will be full. Then we can still build spaceships and emmigrate to outer space. But until we find a new planet to live on, please handle this one with care and leave me enough space to breath.

    • markus peg

      Agreed, most of us agree that population is and will become a big/bigger issue for the future, however, like you said the child should not be punished, the child is innocent. Also murdering babies like the comments section were talking about is not the way to go about population control. I think most would agree with this. India needs to take more and stronger action on its growing population which is set to overtake China. As do many nations around the world.

    • lonetrey / Dan

      Do that, and parents will start willingly strangling their kids so they don’t “get robbed by their own offspring”, I’m sure they’ll say.

      …. Nah. That’s just the cynical outlook. Maybe they’ll actually support something like this, and be the parents they should be for their kids.

  • FYIADragoon

    This story has a lot of holes in it. Where do they explain what happened to the father and the boy’s older sibling?

  • Guest

    Chinese gypsies.

  • nqk123

    don’t worry, population will decreases whenl we start running out of water.

    • YourSupremeCommander

      Will never happen, considering the total amount of atoms that makes up our planet has been more of less the same since the day it was born. If you can understand this highly scientific comment.

      • nqk123

        ok genius. nobody is fighting over water anywhere on this planet.

        • Dr Sun

          really ?

          • nqk123

            I been told by yoursupremecommander with his highly scientific comment. So, i assume nobody have a water shortage problem.

      • markus peg

        Pretty much, yes, with the exception of that which was flushed out into space and wasted… The earth will never see those atoms again…

        But clean water could potentially become an issue someday, with power, oil, food and other things.

        This is interesting to watch, agree or not, its a good watch.
        Edit: the youtube video is a trailer, i cant find the full version, you can try to look yourself.

        EDIT EDIT (2) full video found:

  • markus peg

    The hukou system has many faults. Movement restrictions are far too common.
    But why is it this way? If you look at it from the governments side, what benefits are do they get from it? I don’t know, but their must be otherwise they wouldn’t do it that way.

    Also law is law with the one child policy i can understand that from the population view point, however, at the same time murder is murder, when the child has developed to kill the child is killing an innocent human being…

    China has huge potential to be so much better, all nations can make improvements but with China the scale is that much more extreme. [I’m not sure if i have worded my meaning correctly, but i’m tired so i wont think too much into it for now.]

    • Jobjed

      The Hukou system has been pretty successful (relative to other developing countries) in preventing the advent of slums in urban areas. If a migrant Chinese comes to the cities, he stays a migrant and cannot settle permanently in the city. Many think this is an inhumane system and to a degree, it’s true. However, if the migrants were allowed to settle permanently in the cities, do you think they’ll be able to afford decent housing? No, the vast majority would only be able to afford sheds without basic utilities like gas, electricity and water. Given the huge numbers of migrant workers in China, one can imagine the slums that would immediately appear in the cities if the migrants were allowed to settle permanently. The Hukou system is harsh, but for a developing country with a huge migrating rural population, it’s necessary.

      • Zappa Frank

        But since migrants permanently or not have to settle anyway, what’s the difference?

        • Jobjed

          They reside in cities, but they usually don’t take their relatives from the rural farmlands to the cities. The Hukou system removes any incentives for the migrants to stay in the cities other than to make money since it denies them the privileges that usually come with city life. And no, migrants don’t “settle” in cities, they rent residences near their workplace but their home remains in the rural villages.

          Slums form when the rural population decides to bring their entire ‘clan’ from the villages to the cities and then living in dilapidated shelters. Since the Hukou system denies migrants many urban privileges, the migrants will usually only stay in the cities for as long as they have a job there instead of bringing their whole families to saturate the city with shabby sheds.

      • markus peg

        Thats a good point, if you look at India, they have many illegal slum problems.

  • Boudou

    Sure, its the parents fault for giving birth to him. We don’t choose our parents after-all. Some are terrible, some are poor, some are in a bad situation, and some are uneducated.

    But neither do we choose which society we are born into.

    Also, I don’t buy the “its the law” argument. There have been many unjust laws throughout history (slavery, etc.). From a policy makers perspective however, having angry, undocumented, potentially dangerous individuals in society is untenable.

  • diverdude7

    that was exactly what I was thinking. such a male-centric view of life in china,,, and ,, yeah,, a lot of countries. well,,,, I have known a lot of people,,, male and female,,, and by and large I am more impressed with the FEMALE. (I’m male).

  • Boudou

    I wish I could look at the world as one-dimensionally as you.

    I’m saying that laws can be unjust. Slavery, segregation, certain tax laws, and laws can be homophobic, racist, and sexist (woman can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, and Russia has laws against homosexuality). It doesn’t mean that these laws are all equivalent, and no one is even suggesting that.

    Simply, this law is unjust, its a combination of the one-child policy and hukou system; forced later-term abortions, and a child being born out of wedlock being punished by no fault of his own.

    Furthermore, I don’t presume, like you, to know the conditions and circumstances that his parents were in. I don’t know why they didn’t get married or why they couldn’t pay the fine. They may have a good reason or they may just be terrible parents.

    I don’t know and I don’t care to judge them.

    The one that suffers the most is the child. This is a systematic issue. “The law is clear” sort of statements are morally unconscionable.

  • ptptp

    He’s 8 years old. That’s why he doesn’t realize that it’s his parents’ fault.

  • Anonimo645

    “When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Join “Black Society””
    A supervillain was born

  • bprichard

    That’s kind of you, but HK schools can only handle a tiny amount of additional students. The Mainland needs to come up with a policy that is more humane than their current unacceptable policy.

    • Jobjed

      Currently, the mainland’s policy is to limit births for the Han ethnic group. The punishment for extra births is the denial of social privileges like schooling and other government services to the disallowed child/ren. I’m just wondering how is that policy “unacceptable”? More lenient consequences would mean more parents would simply ignore the policy and have more children. The current policy, to me, is humane enough.

      Perhaps what you’re protesting is not the policy, but the enforcement, which even the most pro-CCP supporters would have to admit is loathsome. However, the quality of the enforcers mirrors the quality of the population from which they were drawn, and as far as I’m concerned, the current average Chinese is not of a very high quality. The central government can only enact policy and hope for the best, they don’t have the ability to suddenly invoke the population to gain a moral conscience; that comes with time.

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