China’s census gives rise to paternity test, distrust; netizens’ comments and our thoughts

November 17, 2010Jing GaoNo Comments, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Original article here

China’s census at the beginning of the month fueled a boom in paternity test. According to the Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, since October, they have given 260 paternity tests because of on account of requirement by family register, a surge comapred with three to five tests every month on average. Tai Yunchun, lecturer at Southern Medical University’s Forensic Center reminded that only five institutions have accredited laboratories to perform paternity tests, “The public should watch out for impostors who take advantage of the rage.”

The sixth national census this year for the first time made clear that children born outside of the one-child policy are eligible for a hukou, or a family registration record, but a paternity test result is required. Family tie formed by adoption also can only be confirmed by a DNA test. This provision has brought many businesses to testing centers. Some people jokingly said, the Census accidentally boosted a “DNA economy.”

However, it is natural that illegal businesses rise to the occasion. Recently, Mr. Wang, a Guangzhou resident, brought the test result produced by a testing body to the local public security office for an update of his family register, and his request was denied. It turned out Wang went to an uncertified test center. He had to have the test redone.

More than ten test centers in Guangzhou claimed that they are recognized by the AABB, or the American Association of Blood Banks. Tai Yunchun said, “The AABB only accredits laboratories within the U.S. Currently there are fewer than 50 in the U.S.”


Agencies launched a variety of price packages, ranging from 1000 to 2000 yuan (US$150 to 300). “Their prices look cheap. But they may cost you more. ” Tai Yunchun said unaccredited test centers often try to maximize their profit by lowering cost and quality, “They compare only 16 loci.” He admitted that this is the mainstream approach, but he also pointed out the method is flawed. Computer simulation testing showed that over 50% of the 16-locus paternity tests have an accuracy rate of less than 99.99%. There is one-in-ten-thousand chance that the result is incorrect.

He said paternity test done by his hospital costs 1,500 yuan when only the father’s DNA is compared with the child, and 2200 yuan when both parents’ DNA are compared. They compare 20 loci instead of 16.

He also said there isn’t an industry norm for cost.

Experts advise to think twice

During the interview, the reporter also learned that the number of requests for paternity test made by China’s post-1980 generation (referring to Chinese born after 1980 who are now in their 20s) is  increasing year by year, even accounting for 70 – 80% of all requests.

Not long ago, a 20-year-old father-to-be took his pregnant wife to a test center in Gansu Province in China’s northwest for a paternity test. The personnel were at a loss that the father made such a demand when the baby was still in the mother’s womb.

“This can only mean that the husband suspected his wife had intimacy with other men before and after their marriage,” Li Rong said. He said that in this case, amniocentesis, a procedure used to extract fluid from the amnion by way of insertion of a needle. It may affect the fetus. More important, once the result comes out as something the mother didn’t expect, the baby might never be born. (Jing Gao notes: The expert wanted to say that usually in this scenario the father threatens a divorce unless the mother agrees to abort the unborn baby. And the mother, with guilt, might give in.)

After Li told the couple the consequences the test might bring, the wife firmly opposed to the plan. The matter was finally dropped.

In fact, most cases were initiated by “fathers who doubt their children are not biological. ” Mr Li told reporters that in the past few years, the demand is on the rise. But nearly 90% of the results show biological bond.

Selected comments from Chinese Netizens:


Tests should be done at the child’s birth! There are so many switches at the hospital. And women are going wilder and wilder. Sell the baby if it is not your own.


The Census is about nothing but extorting money in disguised form.


It’s fair. It would be a huge loss if one finds the child is not his own after having raised him for decades.


I agree!! Nowadays men can get any kind of woman easily!!!

Jing Gao:

The trend reflects that crisis of trust within families looms large, and moral ethics are declining in the sense that there is infidelity of some sort that raises doubt.

"Wearing a green hat" in Chinese is for having an unfaithful wife

A cuckold, or in Chinese idiom, a “green-hatted husband”, suffered enormous humiliation in old China, as the male-dominant values recognize the wife nothing but an accessory to the husband, and suppose that the wife is entirely at the husband’s disposal.  Only men can fool around and be on the loose. Those men who failed to keep an eye on his wife would be questioned on his basic ability to reign supreme in the household.

Besides, Chinese people lay great emphasis on biological ties. Posterity is seen as the only vessel to continue a family legacy. Ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius (the most important predecessor of Confucius) said that “There are three ways to be unfilial, the worst is having no child.” Only one’s biological children are seen as children of one’s own, as they carry the family blood that foster children don’t.

Even though it is less so nowadays than hundreds of years ago, the values are still ingrained in Chinese who are less liberal and open-minded. That’s why stories about stepmothers and stepfathers mistreating their non-biological children are at times heard in today’s China. That’s also why Chinese couples will not adopt children until they have no second choice, for example, when they are infertile.

Therefore, in China, paternity test is a tough-and-go issue not only in the sense that it suggests distrust that estranges couples; if it turns out the child is “a seed sown by another man,” it would devastate the family. More often than not, the father would feel disgraced that he raised the child for an “SOB,” and repudiate the child and divorce the mother right away, no matter how many years they have been living together as a family.

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