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. Higher China fines for stars breaking one-child rule: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 21, 2008
Beijing plans to make an example of celebrities who flout China's one-child policy by dramatically raising fines to prevent them buying their way past the rule, state media said Monday.

"Celebrities and wealthy people will be more heavily fined for giving birth to more than one child," Xinhua news agency quoted city family planning chief Deng Xingzhou as saying.

The government and its media outlets have recently played up reports of celebrities and other wealthy citizens skirting the policy, which limits urban families to one child.

The rocketing incomes of the wealthy have allowed them to increasingly get past the rule by paying a fine officially set at around 100,000 yuan (13,800 dollars) for Beijing residents, but which is typically much lower, Xinhua said.

It cited the case of Hao Haidong, a player in China's domestic football league, who was fined just 50,000 yuan for having a second child despite an annual salary of five million yuan, one of China's highest soccer salaries.

Deng, who heads the Beijing Municipal Commission on Family Planning, said during a government meeting that the level of the new fines for celebrities was still being worked out.

China's family planning policy began in the late 1970s as a way to prevent the world's largest population -- now at 1.3 billion people -- from exceeding the country's capacity to feed it.

Generally, urban families can have one child and rural families can have two if the first is a girl. The policy has averted about 400 million births, the government has said.

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English to be the world's 'language of choice': British PM
London (AFP) Jan 17, 2008
British premier Gordon Brown Thursday pledged to make English the world's "language of choice", announcing a huge programme to boost teaching and access to resources, particularly in China and India.

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