By Ed Flanagan
BEIJING – A 13-month-old child was fatally crushed by a car containing Chinese officials after they went to collect a fine from the parents for breaching the country’s one-child policy, according to Chinese state media.
The incident reportedly occurred Monday in Dongshantou village near Wenzhou city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, after a delegation of 11 officials from the Ruian Town birth control office drove out to get the unspecified fine.
This did not go down well with the father, Chen Liandi, 39, and the conversation got heated.
According to a briefing given by the Ruian Municipal Propaganda Department and reported by state media, the officials convinced Chen’s wife, Li Yuhong, to accompany them back to Ruian to talk over the couple’s options.
The baby was reportedly left in the hands of his father and the group got back into their cars to leave.
What happened next remains unclear – perhaps due to the politically sensitive nature of this story – but the boy was then found crushed underneath a car.
He was rushed to the Third People’s Hospital in Ruian, but could not be saved.
‘You were too careless’
On China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo, users expressed frustration over the vague account given by Ruian officials and demanded more information, but no other Chinese press have printed much beyond the official government account.
For many in China, the story brings back uncomfortable memories of Feng Jiemei, who last June posted gruesome photographs of her lying in a hospital bed next to her 7-month-old aborted fetus.
Feng’s story created a social firestorm for Beijing when word got out that the 22-year-old mother had been forced to have the abortion because she did not have enough money to pay the $6,400 fine for having a second child.
“I told you, $6,400, not even a penny less. I told your dad that and he said he has no money,” a family planning official wrote to Deng in a blunt text message that quickly went viral. “You were too careless, you didn’t think this was a big deal.”
Feng was grabbed from her home and taken to a local hospital in her native Shaanxi province where she was blindfolded, thrown on a bed and forced to a sign a document she couldn’t read. Thirty hours later, her baby girl was aborted.
China has long defended its one-child policy as a way to prevent overpopulation and to help raise living standards across the country.
However, some experts in China and abroad argue that the policy has outlived its usefulness and may instead be a detriment to future growth.
Others in China have pointed out the abuses meted out in cases like Feng Jiemei’s show that it causes more social harm and have called on Beijing to remove it.