At 13:30 on December 26th, Weibo user @天下应该是天下人的天下 posted three photos showing eight people, all of whom are children and old people, locked up behind iron bars in a Fujian family planning office.
The Weibo user was 29-year-old Mr. Lin Tiesheng from Qixing village, Xiangyang Town, Nan'an city, Fujian province. At the time when his father and daughter were locked up in a room by the Xiangyang township family planning officials, he was doing business in far away Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province. On December 25 when his father telephoned him and told of his imprisonment, he got indignant and told one of his relatives to take a picture in the township family planning office and send to him. As soon as he got the pictures he wrote a microblogging through his Weibo account and asked for help.
"The Xiangyang township family planning office has privately set up a prison to illegally imprison old people and children. Since a dozen years ago the illegal prison has never been empty. I want to ask what crime they have committed? Even if they had committed a crime, it is the task of the next door police office to arrest them. The pictures were taken today. Everyone can see 8 people are imprisoned in one room, among whom are two 2 years old infants." read the first microblogging of Mr. Lin.
Lin's posts provoked an outraged response online and as to 11 o'clock on Dec. 27, the post has been retweeted for 1300 times and read by 200,000 netizens.
Family fined for getting pregnant before getting a birth permit
China's one-child policy does not mean one child per couple is all the policy. A birth permit, officially named "Family Planning Servicing Certificate", is to be applied for from the government before getting pregnant in some regions of China.
And reporters began to investigate the matter. By the morning of December 28th the original posts had been deleted and replaced by a post that read: "Nanan city government has properly resolved the incident."
Lin's wife reportedly gave birth to their first child in August 2010 while the couple were unmarried. They had neither a birth permit nor a marriage permit. According to Lin he and his wife had gone to get the permits that spring but because his wife was already pregnant the local government would not issue them.
According to Lin Tiesheng, the family planning office said to him "if you want to get a birth permit then you have to abort the child. Then next time she gets pregnant we will give you a permit".
The couple didn't want to have an abortion so they went to a non-local private hospital to give birth. When officials later found out, they said that the couple would have to pay a family planning fine of 21,000 yuan. But the family of Lin were reluctant to pay the fine since they thought the child is their first birth and they had asked for birth permit before giving birth to the child.
According to Mr. Lin Tiesheng, "The Xiangyang family planning officials came to my home on Dec. 25 again and asked my father to pay the family planning fine of 21,000 RMB. When they fell into a quarrel they brought my father and my 2 years old daughter to their office and locked my father and daughter in a room in the first floor."
The family planning officials presented a slightly different account of the incident. According to Mr. Dai Weiming, chief officer of the Xiangyang Family Planning Servicing Office, Lin Tiesheng's wife gave birth to their daughter illegally before getting a birth permit. "Because they violated family planning regulations, we must obtain evidence of his violation of the regulations at his home. The village cadres have visited his home for a couple of times but his father Lin Jinzhen always said he did not know whereabout of his son and daughter-in-law, nor their telephone numbers. On Dec. 25 when we visited his home again, Lin Jinzhen was 'in bad mood', so we brought them to our office to seek his cooperation in investigation".
Local family planning officials apologized, were demoted, warned by senior government authority
As to the question why they imprisoned the eight people including Lin Jinzhen and his granddaughter, Dai Weiming claimed it was a "work mistake": "The guard we hire is a local people. When he went home, he locked the door by mistake, resulting in locking up six people in the room. This is our fault and for this, we have visited the related families door to door to apologize".
China outlaws imprisonment of violators of the one-child policy. A family planning regulation issued in 1995 clearly states "people (and their relatives) that violate family planning regulations must not be illegally imprisoned, beaten or insulted". But in reality, harrassment and imprisonment of family planning violators, as well as forced abortion which is also forbidden by Chinese laws, are not scarce across China.
On Dec. 29, after the incident was widely reported and have drawn public outrage, local authority took an investigation into the incident and quickly issued a notification to fire Xiangyang township party officials Lin Shican, Yan Guotai and to demote family planning official Dai Weiming, Lin Jiansong, Wang Zhenguo, and issued a "serious warning publishment" for Xiangyang party chief Xai Yinghui, vice party chief Su Zhichang and town mayor Huang Shulin.
Family planning policy has been one of the major sources for social unrest and resentment among Chinese citizens. Many Chinese think of it as a tool of local officials for making money, apart from its violation of Chinese civil rights.