Zheng Shuang, 29, was one of the most popular actresses in China after shooting to gain fame a decade ago. The 30-year-old Zhang Heng was a talented producer for a variety show. In 2018, the pair went public with a set of duet selfies, and often appeared lovingly in the spotlight later – even co-starring in a popular reality series.
So fans were shocked when Zhang took to China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo earlier this month To claim that he has been stranded in the United States for more than a year is left “alone to care for and protect two young and innocent lives”.
The couple is believed to have split up while the two hired mothers were pregnant with their children, whom Zheng accused of giving up the children.
It also published a recording of an alleged phone call during which Zheng’s parents allegedly suggested leaving the children or giving them up for adoption, while Zheng reportedly expressed disappointment that abortion was a viable option Was not, because the mothers were 7 months pregnant at the time. .
The allegations shocked many in China, where family ties are generally considered treasured, and resented social media. It has sparked a debate about surrogacy in a country that officially opposes the practice, yet has a large underground market for it.
Rage of criticism
The scandal exploded on Weibo following Zhang’s post, with the related hashtag drawing more than 3 billion views and a raft of criticism against Racking Zheng. And the backlash was not limited to the online sector alone.
Within days, the Zheng state was shut down by the media, and condemned by China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP) agencies. The state broadcaster CCTV said in a comment, “Surrogacy is expressly banned in our country, and the disregard of its life is a cruelty with anger.”
The CCP’s top commission overseeing political and legal matters accused Zheng of “definitely not following the law”, accusing Zheng of “taking advantage of legal loopholes” by demanding surrogacy in the US. The commission wrote, “Surrogacy is banned in China because it uses women’s uterus as a device and sells life as a commercial product.”
Zheng was dropped by several international brands including luxury fashion label Prada.
Reacting to the firearms, Zheng wrote on Weibo on Tuesday that “this is a very sad and personal matter for me.” She did not address the allegations directly on the surrogacy dispute, but said “she did not violate state directives on Chinese soil and respected all laws and regulations while abroad.”
Technically, Zheng was right.
While surrogacy has long been in the crosshairs of the Chinese government, considered a threat to its strict population control policies, the country’s national legislature has never passed a law in an apparently unlawful manner.
In 2001, the Ministry of Health issued a set of rules on assisted reproductive technology, which banned medical institutions and health care workers from “practicing any form of surrogate technology”. The trade of sperm, egg, zygote and fetus is also completely banned. Medical institutions can be fined up to 30,000 yuan ($ 4,632) For violation as per rules.
But the document did not prohibit individuals or agencies providing commission or surrogacy services or any list as per the ban. Legal Limbo has led a growing underground domestic surrogacy industry, driven by huge demand, while other Chinese couples are moving abroad for surrogate services.
The US, where commercial surrogacy for foreigners is allowed in some states, has become a top choice for wealthy Chinese elites due to its mature industry and high security standards. A child born in the US will also come with US citizenship – a bonus for some Chinese parents.
The ethical issues of surrogacy have been debated around the world, with opponents warning that the practice could lead to the deepening of exploitation and trafficking of women, molestation of female bodies and children, and inequality between rich and poor.
But Zheng’s actions are strongly condemned by a government that has been criticized for decades for forcibly using abortions and sterilization to limit the number of children in each family. While China’s one-child policy was relaxed in 2016 – allowing couples to have two children – the country now has a declining birth rate and a rapidly aging society, meaning to prevent a growing population crisis More newborns are urgently needed.
The Chinese government has resorted to a flurry of policies to encourage young people to marry and have children, with very limited success. However, it still bans the commercial use of many reproductive techniques, such as egg freezing, which gives women the freedom to have children later in life.
Surrogacy, along with other forms of reproductive assistive technology, offers infertile couples the opportunity to have biological offspring. According to a 2009 poll by the China Population Association, 12.5% of Chinese – or 40 million people – were infertile at the age of children. Surrogacy is also demanded from a large pool of elderly couples who have lost their only child, or who simply want a second now they can, as well as a growing number of LGBT couples.
While Chinese health officials and other government agencies have initiated actions from time to time, including a joint campaign by a dozen government departments on surrogacy services, it is not for long-term benefits.
It has suggested to some experts that Beijing should legalize the practice at home, to bring more protection for surrogate mothers and address the growing demand from infertile couples and older parents in the wake of a one-child policy exemption . But many people oppose the idea and call surrogacy illegal, citing a wealth of ethical issues.
Yuan Shiaolu, a Chinese lawyer, told the state’s news agency, Xinhua, that the “lost price” for violating the rules is an important reason to eliminate the cracks of the underground market.
The lack of regulation on the industry also means that there is little protection for surrogate mothers and babies.
Last week, the state-run news website The Paper reported that a couple had canceled an agreement with a surrogate mother in southwest China after finding out that she had syphilis during pregnancy. The surrogate mother eventually raised the child on her own, but even after three years she was unable to register herself as she sold the child’s birth certificate to the black market to pay her hospital bills after C-section delivery Was.
End of a career?
Following the Zheng controversy, there have been renewed calls by China to impose a uniform ban on all forms of surrogacy. But some analysts say the bus practice will be made more underground, as demand will only increase in the future.
Whether the government will respond with another round of rifts, or propose legislation to explicitly dismiss the practice, remains to be seen.
But what seems certain is that Zheng’s career as an A-list actress has suffered a setback. While the public outrage on Chinese social media was primarily aimed at her rude instincts, and was allegedly unable to leave her enchanted partner alone and return home with two American-born children due to the epidemic, it was clear That the state had grown more and more excited with him. Breaking its rules on surrogacy.
On Wednesday night, China’s National Radio and Television Administration released a comment on Zheng’s scandal. The commentary stated, “She bypassed the law for wanting (surrogacy abroad), then wanted to leave her children.
“We will not give a chance and a platform to celebrities involved in such scams to make public appearances.”