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    Zhengzhou Delays Paying Residents to Have Children

    After Zhengzhou residents reported being turned away when they tried to access subsidies for having children, officials said that the scheme has yet to be implemented.
    Nov 23, 2023#family

    A major Chinese city has been criticized for failing to implement a high-profile subsidy scheme for having children almost three months after it was supposed to be in effect.

    In August, the Zhengzhou municipal government in the central Henan province announced a raft of pro-birth incentives to residents, including one-time 15,000 yuan ($2,100), 5,000 yuan, and 2,000 yuan payments for parents having their third, second, and first child, respectively.

    Other measures include extended maternity leave of up to a year and 10 days of parental leave for both parents each year until the child turns 3 years old.

    However, while the measures were meant to come into effect on Sept. 1, residents have been turned down by county officials recently when they tried to claim the payments, a domestic news outlet overseen by the Henan Daily reported Thursday. Other measures meant to come into effect the same day such as extended maternity leave have also not been implemented.

    The news sparked backlash on social media Thursday, and trended as one of the most discussed topics on microblogging platform Weibo with around 60 million views. 

    On Thursday morning, the Zhengzhou Health Commission issued a statement referencing the online anger and said that the measures will be implemented once details are finalized.

    According to the commission website, draft implementation rules were released on Nov. 15 for public consultation until Nov. 29. Aside from specifying application procedures and the required documents, the draft rules also state that funds for the cash payments will be provided by the city government and county governments on an “even basis.”

    The source of the funds was not discussed in the initial announcement in August. According to the latest draft rules, the scheme will still be effective from Sept. 1 onwards.

    On Thursday afternoon, a member of staff surnamed Lan at the health commission referred Sixth Tone to the statement without specifying how long after the consultation period the rules would be implemented. 

    The Zhengzhou government’s delay in implementing the measures has raised questions about its credibility, a commentary in influential news outlet Beijing News said Thursday.

    In response to China’s dropping birthrate, dozens of provinces and cities across the country have rolled out measures to encourage people to have children in recent years, from cash payments to preferential rental policies.

    Other cities that have announced cash payments for having children this year include southern tech hub Shenzhen and the eastern city of Hangzhou. But while Hangzhou officially launched its online portal for residents to apply for the funds on Sept. 10, Shenzhen has yet to finalize its scheme despite introducing the policy in January.

    Zhengzhou, home to 12 million people, had a natural population growth rate of 0.29% in 2022 — the slowest rate in the past three decades, according to official data.

    Editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: IC)