World today Monday deceMber 26, 2011 20
6 die in latest
China school In China, a daring few
BEIJING — At least six people have been
killed in the latest crash involving stu-
challenge one-child limit
dents in China when their overloaded van ZHUJI (China) — Seven months pregnant, had to take place after marriage and told
plunged off a mountain road, the state Ms Wu Weiping snuck out of her house early them to abort the baby before trying again.
media said yesterday. in the morning carrying a shoulder bag with In July, three months before her due date,
The state-run Xinhua news agency some clothes, her laptop and a knife. Ms Wu left her home in Zhuji, a textile hub
said an overloaded van taking 12 students “It’s good for me I wasn’t caught but it’s a few hours south of Shanghai, and hopped
home crashed into a 60m-deep valley in lucky for them too,” said Ms Wu, 35, who a morning train to nearby Hangzhou. There,
south-west China on Saturday. It said the feared that family planning officials were she switched to a Shanghai-bound train,
eight-seat van was carrying 14 people and going to drag her to the hospital for a forced hoping to throw off anyone trying to tail her.
the other eight, including six students, abortion. “I was going to fight to the death if In Shanghai, Ms Wu used a friend’s
were all hurt. they found me.” identity card to rent a one-room apartment
The report did not give the ages of With her escape, Ms Wu joined an in- across from a hospital that allowed her to
the students or the cause of the accident. creasingly defiant community of parents in register without a government-issued birth
Xinhua said the crash happened on a moun- China who have risked their jobs, savings permission slip.
tainous road in Yunnan province. A local and safety to have a forbidden second child. Using the hospital’s Internet connection,
government official confirmed the accident Though their numbers are small, they she kept in touch with her real husband
but would not give any details. represent changing ideas about individual through a password-protected online jour-
rights. While violators in the past tended nal. Shortly before her due date, she asked
The report did not give to be rural families who skirted the birth Ms wu weiping with her daughter wang yile, him to come to Shanghai and he was present
4, and her son wu yixiao, 2, in Zhuji, in eastern
limits in relative obscurity, many today are for the birth of their son.
the ages of the students urbanites like Ms Wu who feel that the gov-
china’s Zhejiang province. aP
or the cause of the ernment has no right to dictate how many Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, a joint Having a baby is not a criMe
children they have. United States-China academic research cen- More than two years later, Ms Wu and her
accident. Xinhua said A few have begun airing their demands tre in Beijing. former husband have yet to remarry, hoping
the crash happened on online for a more liberal family-planning it will legally shield him from any future
policy and are hoping others will follow their running away for baby punishment. The marriage with her cousin
a mountainous road lead. Several have got their stories into the Ms Wu said she never intended to flout was easily dissolved after they discovered it
in Yunnan province. tightly-controlled media, an indication their the one-child rule. The former high school was never valid, because marriages between
perspectives have resonance with the public. teacher had resorted to fertility treatments first cousins is illegal in China.
A local news portal in Yunnan showed It is impossible to know how many chil- to conceive her first child — a daughter nick- Ms Wu was fired from her job as a public
a picture of the van, with all its sides and dren have been born in violation of the one- named Le Le, or Happy — so she was stunned school teacher because of the baby, while her
roof crushed in. child policy but Mr Zhai Zhenwu, director when a doctor told her she was expecting former husband, who is also a teacher, was
Badly-maintained school transport has of Renmin University’s School of Sociology again in August 2008. demoted to a freelance position at his school.
been the focus of public anger in recent and Population in Beijing, estimates that less Family planning officials insisted on an She has been told that she has to pay a
weeks after a series of accidents in which than 1 per cent of the 16 million babies born abortion, while the principal at her school 120,740-yuan (S$24,600) social compensa-
children were killed on their way to and each year are “out of plan”. also pressured her to end the pregnancy. tion fee but she has refused to pay.
from school, leading China’s safety regula- The reluctance of most families to pro- Penalties for violators of the one-child Enforcers of the family planning limits
tor to demand immediate action to improve create is also an issue of growing concern for policy are harsh. Those caught must pay a showed up at their house in July and again
safety aboard frequently overloaded and demographers, who worry that the policy “social compensation fee”, which can be last month, threatening legal action. Ms Wu
badly maintained school buses. combined with a rising cost of living has four to nine times a family’s annual income. is afraid their property might be confiscated
Earlier this month, a school bus tak- brought the fertility rate down too sharply Desperate, Ms Wu went online for an- or that she or husband might end up in
ing primary students home slipped off a and too fast. swers and was led astray. In an attempt to detention, but she does not want to pay the
country road into an irrigation ditch in the Though still the world’s largest nation take advantage of a loophole that allows di- fine because she does not believe she has
eastern province of Jiangsu, killing 15 chil- with 1.3 billion people, China’s population vorced parents to have a second child if their done anything wrong.
dren. Officials later acknowledged the bus growth has slowed considerably. new spouse is a first-time parent, Ms Wu “I don’t think I’ve committed any crime,”
was overloaded. “The worry for China is not population divorced her husband and then “married” she said. “A crime is something that hurts
In the worst recent accident, 19 children growth — it’s rapid population ageing and her cousin the following day. other people or society or that infringes on
and two adults were killed last month when young people not wanting to have children,” But when the couple applied for a birth other people’s rights. I don’t think having a
a nine-seat private kindergarten van packed said Mr Wang Feng, director of the Brookings- permit, officials informed them conception baby is any kind of crime.” aP
with 62 students crashed head-on with a
truck in north-west Gansu province. aP the Malaysian wildlife authorities said they have
captured a female borneo sumatran rhino who will
be paired with a new mate in a breeding programme
meant to save their species from extinction. the plan is
the cornerstone of efforts to preserve the bristly, snub-
nosed animal, whose numbers have fallen to fewer
than 40 in the jungles of borneo island.
officials have spent more than three years seeking
a suitable mate for a middle-aged male rhino named
‘tam’, which was rescued in sabah state in 2008, while
wandering in an oil palm plantation with an infected
leg likely caused by a poacher trap. the first rhino
previously found for tam was too old to reproduce.
Late on saturday, the sabah wildlife department
said in a statement that rangers this past week
captured a young female rhino nicknamed ‘Puntung’
rare MalaysIan rhIno gets neW Mate (picture), whom they had been monitoring for years. aP