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China Party expels members over one-child rule

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Communist Party has expelled 500 members in the central province of Hubei for flouting the country’s one-child policy, state media reported on Monday.

A Chinese woman and her child stroll along the Bund in Shanghai August 24, 2004. China's Communist Party has expelled 500 members in the central province of Hubei for flouting the country's one-child policy, state media reported on Monday. REUTERS/China Photos

For over two decades, the world’s most populous country has tried to restrict family size with rules limiting most couples to one child in urban areas and two in the countryside.

But enforcement has been haphazard as mobile families in a country undergoing mass urban migration can often avoid official checks, and the wealthy can pay fines or bribes to skirt rules.

Hubei found 93,084 people breached the policy last year, including 1,678 officials, Xinhua news agency said, citing the provincial family planning commission.

Among the offenders, 500 were expelled from the Communist Party, 395 were dismissed from their posts, and seven national and local lawmakers lost their political status.

“More party members, celebrities, and well-off people are violating the policies in recent years, which has undermined social equality,” Xinhua quoted Yang Youwang, director of the commission, as saying.

To crack down on flagrant violations by officials, Hubei approved new regulations barring offenders from government employment for three years and holding elective office or being political advisers.

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Hunan province, which neighbors Hubei, discovered last year that nearly 2,000 officials and celebrities had breached rules between 2000 and 2005, including a lawmaker who had four children by four mistresses.

Last year, officials in Hubei province levied a record 765,500 yuan ($105,000) fine on a local lawmaker for flouting family planning laws.

China credits family planning laws with preventing 400 million births and thereby boosting prosperity in a country that now has 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s total.

But the policy has also exacerbated a gender imbalance, where access to ultrasound tests and gender-selective abortions has resulted in there being 118 boys born for every 100 girls, potentially threatening social stability as more men have difficulty finding wives.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom, editing by Nick Macfie)

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