Living life as an undocumented 'illegal' child

Living life as an undocumented 'illegal' child
Li Xue, left, and her mother, Bai Xiuling, sit in their home in Beijing.
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

BEIJING - Ahead of the Chinese Lunar Year holiday from Feb. 8, cities across the country are all spruced up with decorations. But Li Xue, a 22-year-old born and bred in Beijing, is in no mood to celebrate, as always. Having no family registration certificate, she lives a life that has always been denied by the state.

Li's plight is a dark side of the country's one-child policy, which was fully implemented in the 1980s.

Li was born at a maternity clinic in Beijing in 1993 and was given a birth certificate. She lives in her parents' one-story brick house in Dongcheng with her sister, who is 8 years older than her. When Li was born, local officials ordered her parents to pay a fine of 5,000 yuan (US$759) for violating the one-child policy.

But the disabled parents, who were making a few dozen yuan a month at the time, could not afford it. As a result, Li was forced to live a life as one of the "black," or illegal, children, who do not have a family registration certificate.

"Li doesn't have human rights," says her 56-year-old mother, Bai Xiuling, with tears in her eyes. Li has not spent a single day in school because she lacks the document and was rejected admission. She has never left Beijing because she cannot buy a plane or train ticket without an identification card, for which a family registration certificate is required. She has no expectations for obtaining a decent job or getting married.

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