China’s oldest new mother, 67, and her husband, 68, wait to hear if they’ll be fined for third child

Laurie Chen

China’s oldest new mother and her husband may be fined for breaking family planning rules as they also have two adult children, according to a Chinese media report.

A 67-year-old retired hospital worker, surnamed Tian, gave birth to a girl named Tianci by caesarean section at the Zaozhuang Maternity and Child Health Hospital in Shandong province on October 25.

Tianci’s birth made headlines around the world, and some commentators questioned her parents’ claim that she was conceived naturally.

“We don’t know what people are saying online, but this really happened to us,” news website quoted Huang Weiping, the child’s father, on Saturday as saying.

“Besides being in good health, this may have something to do with the way we live,” the 68-year-old said. “But no medical or scientific research organisations have contacted us to find out the reason we conceived, and we don’t want anyone else to disturb our lives.”

Huang Weiping believes good health and living habits helped him and his wife to have a third child. Photo: Handout

Tian and Huang already have a son and daughter, and several grandchildren. Their youngest grandchild, aged 15, usually lives with the couple.

Huang said a neighbourhood committee worker congratulated him on the birth on Friday, but did not say if the couple faced a fine.

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“Couples giving birth to a third child are rare, and your circumstances are very particular,” Huang quoted the worker as saying. “If higher-level [government] departments have any requirements, we will contact you immediately.”

An official at the family planning office of the Zaozhuang municipal health committee told news site that couples who had three children faced fines under provincial law.

“We are investigating, in Huang Weiping’s case, whether they already have two children. It is only then that we can confirm whether they fit the criteria to be fined,” the official said.

China relaxed its one-child policy in 2016, permitting all couples to have up to two children in an effort to lower the average age of the country’s population. Couples who break family planning rules can face thousands of yuan in fines.

Exceptions to the policy in Shandong include when one child has a disability and will be unable to join the workforce; if a previously infertile couple who adopted two children manage to conceive, and if someone with two children from a previous marriage decides to have a child with their new spouse.

In February, authorities in Shandong froze the bank account of a couple who failed to promptly pay a 64,626 yuan (US$9,217) fine for having a third child.

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According to the report, Huang said that on learning of Tian’s pregnancy, their daughter advised her to have an abortion, threatening to cut her parents off when Tian decided to have the baby.

“The reason she was against it is probably because of the risk of being fined, which could affect our pension income,” he was quoted as saying.

Huang, a retired court employee, said that neither of their adult children had visited since Tianci was born. The couple hired a nanny, and should be able to raise the child on their joint pension income, Huang said.

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