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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 07:04 GMT
China reinforces one-child stance
Nurses look after new-born babies in Chongqing, China, on 2 January
More and more wealthy couples are ignoring the one-child rule
Hundreds of people in central China have been expelled from the Communist Party for violating the one-child policy, state media has reported.

More than 90,000 people in Hubei province defied the policy in 2007, Xinhua news agency said.

These included 1,678 officials and party members, the agency said. Of these, 500 had been expelled from the party and 395 stripped of their posts.

China implemented the policy, to curb population growth, in the late 1970s.

Most urban couples are limited to one child, while rural couples may have two if the first is a girl.

But as China has grown wealthier, couples who can afford to pay the fines are choosing to ignore the policy and have bigger families.

"More party members, celebrities and well-off people are violating the policies in recent years, which has undermined social equality," said Yang Youwang, director of the provincial family planning commission.

A number of cases involving celebrities and officials were still being investigated, he said.

The report did not say whether all the 90,000 people who defied the policy in the province had been punished.

China credits the one-child policy with bringing its soaring population under control.

But the controversial restrictions have also led to a serious gender imbalance, as some couples choose to abort female foetuses in order to make sure their only child is a boy.

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